AMES, Iowa -- According to the Alzheimer's Association, the disease is now the 6th-leading cause of death in the United States. This summer, one Ames man is leading the charge to fight the disease on foot.
The Walk to End Alzheimers in Ames is just under two months away. It's just one of the over 600 sites of the walk nationwide and is the world's largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer's care, support, and research. But for Dean Sampson, the 2.5-mile walk wasn't enough.
“I started on June 6th and I’ve been averaging about five miles a day on my walks about 1.5-2 hours a day,” Sampson, an Ames resident said. “I get up really early to do it and I’ve been blessed with good weather the whole time.”
Sampson is walking every single street in Ames in honor of his wife, Judy. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia in 2015. His goal is to complete it all ahead of the official Walk to End Alzheimer’s on October 12th.
“I’ve enjoyed it because I’ve learned a lot about the city even though I’ve been here 17 years,” Sampson said. “I’ve found some residential areas I didn't even know existed and other things too. I’ve got a city map that I’m logging each day what I did for miles.”
For the past two years, Dean and Judy walked for the cause raising $3,500 in year one and $5,000 in year two. Now Sampson is upping his game with a goal of $6,500 and thought he needed to do more to get the word out. That’s why he’s walking all over town helping promote something that means a lot to him.
“I think the main emphasis this year on the walk is that they’d like to have the first survivor of Alzheimer’s, and my hope is someday maybe even Judy can be a first survivor of Alzheimer’s,” Sampson said.
He wears a protective bright yellow vest and hat every day on his walk. So far he's clocked in 232 miles and has about another 20 to go.
You can find Sampson or his team called “Judy's Angels” online at the Walk to End Alzheimer's website to donate to his cause.