The Walk to End Alzheimer’s Comes to Fire Island

Saltaire Yacht Club will be the launch site of a walk dedicated to Alzheimer’s awareness at the end of this month. Run by the Alzheimer’s Association Long Island Chapter and Caring People, a home care agency, the walk will start at the yacht club, then continue west for one and a half miles until reaching the Dive bar in Kismet.

Since 1989, The Alzheimer’s Association has been holding walk events around the world and continues to do so each year, yet this will be the first one they have held on Fire Island.

The event will also feature a Promise Garden Ceremony, where people affected by Alzheimer’s in different ways plant a garden of flowers.

“The goal of the event is to support Alzheimer’s awareness and support the caregivers and families that are affected by this disease and their loved ones, and people that have it themselves,” said Donna Stefans.

Stefans has been working with the Association for seven years and is a part of the Long Island Chapter board. Her grandmother had dementia and Stefans was one of her caregivers when she was still alive. Now, as a member of the Alzheimer’s Association, she is a lawyer trying to help the elderly.

“I am an elder law attorney, and what I do as an elder law attorney is I advocate for the elderly people that get sick and need care, and I work with the families to help protect their assets, and to get proper care whether it be home or elsewhere,” Stefans added. “One of the biggest concerns I have is for the caregivers, because they don’t get the support they need to care for the person that’s not well.”

Examples of the Alzheimer’s Association’s symbolic “promise garden” flowers along the beach.

 According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are more than 6 million Americans with Alzheimer’s, and this number is predicted to rise to 13 million by the year 2050. According to a new study released at the 2023 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s in the population sector 65+ years of age is 12.5% in Nassau County and 11.7% in Suffolk County.  

“The biggest message is that you’re not alone, and that there are people and resources out there to help you,” Stefans said. This event is the largest event for Alzheimer’s awareness in the world.

“We’re closer than ever to stopping Alzheimer’s,” said Tinamarie Hardekopf, director of development, Alzheimer’s Association Long Island Chapter. “We hope that everyone in our community can join us at this inaugural event by starting a team to help the Alzheimer’s Association raise awareness and funds for families facing the disease today, take more steps toward treatments and finally end this disease.”  

If you wish to join the walk on Aug. 26, you can register at