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Sonoma-Marin Walk to End Alzheimer’s returns, this time to Sonoma State University

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, North Bay residents gathered Saturday at the Sonoma-Marin Walk to End Alzheimer’s to raise money for local programs and services that assist those with the disease.

After an entirely online event last year, participants this year either met at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park for an opening ceremony and 3-mile walk or took part virtually and walked through their own neighborhoods.

“Everybody does what they’re comfortable doing,” walk manager Shari Woogen said.

Nearly 650 walkers registered for the event, and about 500 people arrived Saturday morning at SSU, marking the first time the walk was held at the campus.

Before the event began, emcee and KZST radio host Ted Williams asked participants to hold up flowers that demonstrated why they came to the event. Blue flowers represented those with Alzheimer’s, purple symbolized those who have died, yellow represented caregivers and orange symbolized people who came in support of the walk.

“A lot of these people love coming back together and remembering the loved ones that they lost and the ones that they’re serving right now,” said Diane Breithaupt, planning committee chair for the walk.

Entertainment was lined up along the route, including ukulele players, Petaluma High School cheerleaders, Redwood Empire Chinese Association dancers, and Suzie Lindsay, known as Santa Rosa’s “Bubble Lady.”

By Saturday afternoon, $320,078 of the Sonoma-Marin Walk to End Alzheimer’s $350,000 goal was raised. But fundraising continues through the end of December, Woogen said, and donations still are accepted at bit.ly/3mESDOG.

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