Volunteers craft symbolic flowers for annual Alzheimer's walk

WAUWATOSA (WITI) -- More than 5 million American's are living with Alzheimer's -- it's a disease that every 67 seconds someone develops.

Folks in Southeastern Wisconsin are working to find a cure through the 20th annual Walk to End Alzheimer's -- and some local kids are stepping up to brighten the future of those effected.

Ten little hands working together to make 3,500 flowers.

"It's really fun to work with your classmates and also people who you might not see every day. It's just a fun experience," said student volunteer, Anna Wozniak.

But there's a deeper meaning behind this activity.

"A flower is like a symbol of life, a symbol of hope," said Wozniak.

That's what these children want to spread at Saturday's Walk to End Alzheimer's.

"It makes me feel good because I know people need help getting through this. It's a hard thing but if they all work together they can get through it and help each other and maybe find a cure," said student volunteer, Lucas Romero.

The students are part of the International Baccalaureate Club at Wauwatosa Catholic School. The project goes beyond learning about service for Anna Wozniak -- her grandmother passed away from Alzheimer's.

"It was really hard, I would visit her at the hospital, she wouldn't really know who I was but she would like give me hugs and stuff," said Wozniak.

The disease also took Karen Scharrer-Erikson's husband five years ago.

"The last year he didn't know who I was, he didn't know my name. He would whistle for me. I was able to take care of him 28 hours before he died," said Scharrer-Erikson, a walk volunteer.

Each flower represents their own group, orange is for the advocates of finding a cure, purple for the family member of those who have the disease, yellow is for the caregiver, and blue is for those suffering from the disease.

"We don't see many blue because you'd have to be in the very early stages of the disease to be able to walk," said Scharrer-Erickson.

One day they hope, there just isn't a need for blue.

"I would hope that," said Scharrer-Erickson.

The 3,500 flowers will be given to walkers at Saturday's Alzheimer's walk at Mount Mary University in Wauwatosa. The 20th annual event begins at 9:30am.