With Fall almost over, the Chicago lake front events are winding down. With it’s vast walkways and vistas it is a great place for groups to have fund raising walks for causes near and dear to those who attend. Until I lived in the city, I had rarely attended such events – to far to drive on a weekend, but living here allows me to easily join others and support their causes. On a beautiful September weekend, I volunteered for the Out of the Darkness walk in Grant Park on Saturday and walked to End Alzheimer’s along Montrose Harbor on Sunday. The Out of the Darkness walk supports the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (for info go to afsp.org). I got involved for the first time through a friend of a friend who lost their teenage son to suicide. He got to wear a white necklace meaning he lost a child where others wore red for a spouse, gold for a parent, orange for a sibling and others. Many families had t-shirts with the picture of the person they lost. It was sobering and yet comforting to see so many people who were there with hugs and smiles, determined to help the cause and erase the stigma. With a very small staff, it is clear this wonderful organization, AFSP has truly impacted others is many ways and I plan to help out again next year.
The next day, I walked to End Alzheimer’s (for info go to alz.org). With age being the number one risk factor for this fatal disease and the boomers rapidly reaching their aging years, everyone should support this cause. With no cure or treatment that modifies the disease course, the burden on our healthcare system and family caregivers is growing everyday and will get worse. This was my 6th walk, and I plan on many more. The walk included the “flower garden” where walkers could select a flower – representing that they lost someone to Alzheimer’s, have Alzheimer’s, are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, or they support the cause because so many if not touched directly, know someone who has been impacted.
So if you are in Chicago enjoy the many options in the big city to volunteer, meet others and help others – you will be greatly rewarded.