Oak Hammock at the University of Florida hosted its third annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s Thursday morning.
Residents and staff from the senior living community gathered to walk a one-mile loop around the Oak Hammock campus.
Due to the weather being below 50 degrees, the event was moved indoors, and several dozen participants maneuvered their way around campus buildings to complete the loop.
“Being here in the comfort of a familiar space makes all the world of a difference,” said Christina Smoak, Oak Hammock’s Life Enrichment Manager, said in an interview. “It’s definitely a great impact throughout the community. The camaraderie, the teamwork, the ‘One Oak Hammock One Family,’ it all comes out.”
The event raises money and awareness for the disease.
Donations from residents and staff members continued throughout the walk and will be accepted until the weekend.
“Alzheimer’s has affected everybody in some way, shape, or form,” Smoak said. “At some point, you’re going to come across someone with Alzheimer’s, and it is going to affect you in some way, and with that said, we are just truly about giving back.”
The Oak Hammock community did a fundraiser involving the UF baseball team.
For every homerun a Gator hit last baseball season, Oak Hammock pledged to donate $50 to the Alzheimer’s Association. The team finished the season with a total of 121 home runs.
Oak Hammock CEO Kevin Ahmadi and other staff members joined UF baseball head coach Kevin O’Sullivan and some players for a check presentation of $5,100 that will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.
In addition to the home run fundraiser, Oak Hammock hosted a campus-wide chili cook-off in honor of National Chili Day with residents and staff members making their own chili dishes. Donations from that event went to the Alzheimer’s Association as well.
Vitas Healthcare and Ovation Home Care members were at the annual walk, showing support, cheering on the residents and handing out refreshments.
“Alzheimer’s is a disease that kind of hits home to many residents because this is a senior population,” Kathy Cafazzo, Oak Hammock’s Communications and Marketing Coordinator, said in a phone interview.
The annual walk hits close to home for a particular 100-year-old resident.
Brenda Thomas, a resident of Oak Hammock, lost her husband to dementia. Before his passing, Smoak worked with him in the memory care unit on Oak Hammock’s campus. Today, everyone working in this unit participated in the walk, and Thomas herself joined.
Thomas reflected on the earlier walks hosted by the Gainesville community.
“We started doing the walks way back when,” Thomas said in an interview. “We would have guest speakers and doctors come and talk about Alzheimer’s and the good things we are trying to do.”
She smiled and laughed as she reminisced on the memories and community aspect of the events.
“It was fun, and we would get a different shirt every year, which everyone loved,” Thomas said. “I think it is important for everyone to come out and participate today. It was so nice seeing so many wheelchaired patients out and about this morning.”