University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) senior Maddie Cunningham has been an advocate for Alzheimer’s awareness since she was five years old. Dedicating her life to spreading awareness, Cunningham will be participating in her 16th Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Sunday, Sept. 22 at Stinson Park in Omaha.
Held in more than 600 communities nationwide, the annual Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to promote awareness and raise funds for research, care and support while participating in a one- or two-mile walk.
After her great-grandmother was diagnosed with the disease, Cunningham began to raise awareness by holding bake sales, garnering support even at a young age.
Cunningham said that she enjoys the connections made with other participants and the ability to bond with them over the course of the walk and share their own personal stories.
“It’s important because the disease really does affect so many people, and we try to make that Alzheimer’s connection,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham has attended the Alzheimer’s Advocacy Forum in Washington, D.C. four times, passionately helping legislators understand the need for more research on the disease. Since she is so passionate, her work is never done, and she continues to participate in the walk each year with her friends and family members as Team Maddie.
“By participating in the Omaha Walk to End Alzheimer’s, area residents and businesses join the largest non-profit funder of Alzheimer’s research,” said Sharon Stephens, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association Nebraska Chapter. “Until we find that cure, we must all share our stories of how Alzheimer’s has affected our family and friends and continue to encourage others to join the fight to end Alzheimer’s. Together, we can do so much.”
Participants in the Omaha Walk to End Alzheimer’s can register at 9 a.m. at Stinson Park, with the walk beginning at 11 a.m. Participants can register as a team captain, team member or individual.
The event is free to attend, with participants encouraged to donate to help contribute to the Alzheimer’s Association’s cause and spread awareness.
“I hope to see a lot of people out wearing purple that Sunday,” Cunningham said.