This speech was delivered on stage at the 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Spokane. Warren Walker was recently diagnosed with a type of dementia related to concussions, and is a member of our early-stage memory loss support group.
Good morning, my name is Warren Walker. I am 65 years old. I was diagnosed last summer and I hold a blue flower. Look around you. I am not alone.
We Walk to End Alzheimer’s — and to me, nothing less is acceptable.
Will it end? Yes, I believe that someone standing here now will, in their lifetime, be Spokane’s first survivor. It will be at an opening ceremony like this and you will see a person walk onto the stage holding a white flower. I believe this. This is my dream.
Now, I wish to talk about what these promise garden flowers mean to me.
The purple flower you hold, I know, is a memorial for someone lost to this disease; but, it is also a public testament, a visible way to show all the human cost of Alzheimer’s.
Each flower is a life lost. We walk to end that.
Yellow flowers are the caregivers. You are a wife, a husband, a son or daughter, a family member. Yours is a 24/7 responsibility. You do a lot, but you also do this…
You give dignity to the one you care for. You speak for their humanity while this disease rips it away. You are their guardian and you hold a special place.
You are also not alone. Look around. Today, we are here walking with you.
Orange flowers, you are our advocates. You have no connection to Alzheimer’s except a desire to support this cause. Today you are saying, “End Alzheimer’s. Here is the money I raised. Use it well.”
To the staff and volunteers in Spokane: You carry your own promise flowers all year long. The knowledge, counseling and guidance given to me and my wife this last year, showed us how to live a better life with this disease. That is, you gave us hope. You gave me hope when that seemed impossible.
Today, I walk to support you.
And now, I speak to the person who will be our first survivor. I congratulate you on your success. You are the beginning of the end of Alzheimer’s.
The white flower you hold was put there by people like us. Because we never stopped walking, we never stopped caring and our dream became your reality. If you look to the past, we are there.
To finish, for those holding a blue flower: Enjoy this special day. Just enjoy it. Know that we are surrounded by friends.
They are walking for us.
Thank you for your time. Thank you for walking.
The Walk is over. The fight is not. Make a donation now through Dec. 31 and help move us one step closer to realizing our vision of a world without Alzheimer’s.