GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Did you notice anything different about the Blue Bridge? It has been lit up purple in honor of the annual "Walk to End Alzheimer's."

According to the association, Alzheimer's affects are felt by nearly 700,000 Michiganders and kills 3,771 Michiganders annually. It is the 6th leading cause of death in Michigan, a 129% increase since 2000.

Today, there are an estimated 180,000 Michiganders, aged 65 and older, living with the disease, an amount estimated to rise to 190,000 by 2020 and to 220,000 by 2025. There are also more than half a million caregivers providing 586 million hours of unpaid care to their loved ones in Michigan.

On Saturday, the annual "Walk to End Alzheimer's" took place at Millennium Park, located on Maynard Avenue SW. Along with the walk, the Blue Bridge is going to be turned to purple in honor of the Alzheimer's Walk – starting on Thursday through Sunday. Additionally, the dome on the top of McKay Tower will also be turned purple over the same time.

Before each walk, a "Promise Garden Ceremony" took place. The Promise Garden is a hands-on, mission-focused experience that allows participants to raise flowers representing their promise to remember, honor, care and fight for those living with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers. Through color, these Promise Flowers represent the diverse motivations of the walker:

  • BLUE FLOWER - I have Alzheimer's/dementia
  • YELLOW FLOWER - I am supporting or caring for someone with Alzheimer's/dementia
  • PURPLE FLOWER - I have lost someone to Alzheimer's/dementia
  • ORANGE FLOWER- I support the cause and the Alzheimer's Association vision of a world without Alzheimer's
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Participants have an opportunity to write a personal message on their flower to further show their dedication. Together, the Promise Flowers create a dynamic, colorful and meaningful "garden."

More than 600 communities nationwide participate in “Walk to End Alzheimer’s,” which is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research.

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