McLean, VA] September 24, 2021 – More than 200 Charles County residents and their families and friends will unite in a movement to reclaim the future for millions by participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Charles Countyon Saturday, October 2 at the La Plata Town Hall.

Returning to lead this year’s Walk are Jeannine James, Mayor of the Town of La Plata, serving as the Walk’s Honorary Chair, and Joel Hill, CEO of Berean Employment Screening Solutions, who is the Chair of the Walk. Hill walks in memory of his mother, Inez Hill, and serves as the captain of Team Purple Rain. Said Hill: “Our team is named for my mother’s favorite color. Although she had Alzheimer’s late in life, she always remembered the names of all seven of her children.”

The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. For more than 20 years, Charles County residents have gathered to participate in this fundraising event. In the last 10 years alone, the community has raised more than $700,000 through the Walk for the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association. As of Friday evening, the 54 teams and 200 participants registered to date had raised more than $53,000 toward this year’s goal of $65,000.

Among the teams returning for the Walk in La Plata on October 2 are the Southern Maryland Boot Scooters, led by team captain Leslie Harvey. The team has been participating in the Walk since 2015 and has raised tens of thousands of dollars through their personal fundraising efforts and their special events, including their annual benefit dance. The group has raised almost $20,000 for this year’s Walk and are closing in on their goal of $25,000.

“Many of our team members have family or friends impacted by this disease,” said Harvey. “Our goal is to see the white flower held by survivors of this terrible disease.” Harvey knows all too well the devastation that Alzheimer’s can have on a family. “I have five family members that have … or have passed with Alzheimer’s,” she continued. “This disease took the life of my grandmother, my Aunt Lucille, my brother Doug and just recently my Aunt Alice. My mother is still battling this disease. I don’t ever want to look at my kids and not know who they are, so my motto is ‘I will strive … to keep it at Five’.

Also participating in the Walk is Tonya McCray, team captain of The Bennett Crew. “I walk to honor my father, John Bennett, Sr.,” said McCray. “I used to walk in the hope that one day they’ll find a cure that my father could benefit from one day. In January 2021, he was called home before that time came. With each step, my family and I will walk in remembrance of him.”

As the chair of the event, Hill will lead the poignant Promise Garden ceremony — a mission-focused experience that signifies the solidarity of the Walk participants in the fight against the disease. The colors of the Promise Garden flowers represent people’s personal connection to Alzheimer’s:

  • Blue: Someone living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
  • Purple: An individual who has lost someone to the disease.
  • Yellow: A person who is currently supporting or caring for someone living with Alzheimer’s.
  • Orange: A participant who supports the cause and the Association’s vision of a world without Alzheimer’s and other dementia.

With the health and safety of participants, staff and volunteers as top priorities, the Walk will implement safety protocols including physical distancing, masks (where required), contactless registration, hand sanitizing stations and more. Per CDC guidelines around crowded outdoor settings, we ask that all Walk attendees be vaccinated against COVID-19 or wear a mask when in an overcrowded area. Masks will be available on-site. Participants also are offered the option to participate online and in local neighborhoods.

“While the recent Delta variant surge may impact the way we walk, it doesn’t change the reason we walk,” said Kate Rooper, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association National Capital Area Chapter. “More than ever, with the dollars raised, the Alzheimer’s Association can continue to provide care and support to families during these difficult times while also advancing critical research toward methods of treatment and prevention.”

Contactless registration will open at 9 a.m. on Saturday. The ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m., followed by the Walk. Participation is free. Walkers are encouraged to raise funds. For more information and to register, visit or contact Sonya Amartey at 703-766-9025 or

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