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More People, More Voices

More People, More Voices

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Columbia’s 2022 Walk to End Alzheimer’s breaks fundraising and participation goals.

Alzheimer’s takes a profound toll on everyone it touches, especially its victims, their loved ones, and their caretakers. 

More than six million Americans are living with the disease, and deaths have doubled during the past 20 years. One in three senior citizens dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Those are just a few of the reasons why the team at Columbia’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s are so devoted to the cause. In particular, Chris Cottle, Walk Manager at Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Missouri Chapter, keeps the desire for advocacy close to his heart. 

“I got into this because my father, Brian, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 52,” Chris says. “He passed away five years later at the age of 57.” 

Chris adds, “I started volunteering just on the walk committee back in 2012, Two years later, I became the event chair for the Columbia walk, and I served in that role for the next four or five years, and then I was asked to come on staff in 2019 as the walk manager. I got into this organically, as it were, but it was a hard deal for me personally.” 

The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s involves more than 600 communities throughout the country, and it’s the biggest fundraising organization for care, support, and research that exists worldwide. 

“As we know more and more about the brain, and Alzheimer’s, and what that is, and the better we get at identifying these factors the more we realize this has kind of been a bigger problem than maybe we knew about,” Chris said. 

This year’s local Walk to End Alzheimer’s was held in October at Faurot Field, and it was a record-breaking event, both in terms of the turnout and the funds raised.  

“It was a group effort,” Chris says. “It’s a team effort to pull something like that off.” Their team’s goal was to raise $150,000, and they raised nearly $192,000. Eight hundred people and 81 teams participated. 

In his current role with the organization, Chris said he has to be a jack of all trades, that his days are always different, and that he’s learned to thrive on chaos.  

He also said that his goal is to make the cause visible, to find new ways to be of service, and to create a meaningful experience for everyone who participates in the event. He loves details, what he does, and the Columbia community’s willingness to rally around an important cause. 

“I enjoy that every day is different,” Chris says. “I’m either spending time with emails, or researching partnership opportunities with local businesses, or talking with your local leaders or representatives, or going to an awareness event, or speaking at a rotary club, or trying to sketch out a poster for an upcoming event or a walk, and then there’s volunteer management, and then there’s trying to foster the strength of the people who want to devote the time to help out our cause, and put them in a position that they feel comfortable with.” 

Chris says the best part of his job is interacting with people on a daily basis.

His mission is to make the cause visible and accessible, and to find more ways to be of service to people who need those resources. He goes into every day thinking about how he can help the organization thrive, and to raise awareness about the needs that still exist. He wants the community to know that the mission is to be there when you need them, and to provide a lifeline. 

“Your struggle is what makes you who you are, and what you do today,” Chris says. “As long as you find a lesson in the hard times, then it’s worth something important.” 

To get involved with volunteering or fundraising, contact: 

Chris Cottle 
[email protected] 

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