You couldn’t miss the purple-clad marchers, many carrying streamers, pinwheels and other festive accompaniments, on Wednesday afternoon as they wound their way along the sidewalks lining 2nd Avenue, Dayton Street and Sunset Ave in dowtown Edmonds.
No, it wasn’t the return of the infamous Purple Gang of Prohibition days, although some of the marchers were alive during those times. Rather, it was residents and staff of the Edmonds Landing retirement community hitting the streets for the seventh year in a row to raise money and awareness to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. And although the atmosphere was festive, their purpose was deadly serious.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the disease is the sixth leading cause of death nationwide, killing more people than breast and prostate cancer combined. More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and every 66 seconds someone develops the disease. And it’s expensive. In addition to the pain and heartbreak, Alzheimer’s drains our national economy of a staggering $236 billion annually.
The latest statistics show Alzheimer’s as the third leading cause of death in Washington state, where the Alzheimer’s death rate is the 6th highest in the nation. Learn more at the Alzheimer’s Association website.
For one Edmonds Landing resident in particular, the cause – and the annual walk – is personal.
Landing resident Velva Salterelli started the march seven years ago to honor her husband of 51 years, “Salty” Salterelli, who died from complications of Alzheimer’s in 2013.
“I look forward to this event every year to honor and remember him,” explained the 95-year-old Velva. “I want to do my part to find a cure for this disease that robs you of your mind, your dignity, and your life.”
A big part of the event is fundraising, and each year the residents collect funds among themselves, friends, and family to support research into finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. While contributions were still trickling in on Wednesday, according to Edmonds Landing Marketing Director Victoria Cole it looks like this year will fall just shy of $5,500.
“Since we began doing this seven years ago, the event has raised more than $25,000 for Alzheimer’s research,” she added.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel
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