Emerald Coast Walk Chair Spotlight: Kristen Kennedy

By Maddison Rametta

Kristen Kennedy is an Emmy award-winning meteorologist at News 13, WMBB in Panama City and a volunteer leader for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s® in Emerald Coast, serving as Chair of the Executive Committee for Walk.

Held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide, the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest fundraiser for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. This inspiring event calls on participants of all ages and abilities to join the fight against the disease.

Ms. Kennedy recently answered a few questions about her involvement in the fight to end Alzheimer’s.

How has Alzheimer’s impacted your life? Many of my older relatives have been diagnosed with the disease before passing. The two people who have had it and impacted my life most are my late granddad and my great aunt who is currently living with it. In high school, my granddad would spend a few months each year at his children’s homes after becoming a widow, so I experienced some of the patterns of Alzheimer’s (like repeated stories, confusion upon what day it is) while he lived with us. My great aunt had a more aggressive experience with the disease where her health went downhill quicker and more recently.

Both of my parents have acted as caretakers, too. Not only have I seen the impacts on the person living with the disease but also how it impacts those who take care of them.

What made you decide to volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s? I started my own fundraiser in January 2021 while living in Arkansas, and the local chapter there reached out to me to join the committee for The Longest Day. After moving to Florida, I did some research on events in the Panhandle and found the Walk to End Alzheimer’s Emerald Coast. I liked the idea of being about to contribute to an event that would support a lot of people as a community driven fundraiser versus creating an event of my own.

How do you hope to support your community as a volunteer? I hope my community involvement with the Alzheimer’s Association encourages others to volunteer some time to the cause and put action behind the hope to end this disease. I want others to know they can come to me for support, and I can help connect them to the right people/resources.

Why should someone sign up for Walk to End Alzheimer’s? We’re living in a world where almost everyone has a connection to Alzheimer’s disease – whether that link is a family member, friend, friend of a friend or someone who has spoken out about the disease and its impacts. There is no cure, and if we don’t fight to find one, there’s a high chance that we ourselves might suffer from the disease when we get older. The only way to stop it is to start fighting for a cure and get involved. An easy way to do that is the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. It is one of the top fundraisers for the Alzheimer’s Association – the leading organization in research of the disease to find a cure. It’s also super easy and requires very little of participants – just register, fundraise what you can and plan to walk in person or virtually.

How can someone get involved in Walk to End Alzheimer’s? Head over to alz.org/Walk to find a walk in your community. Sign up as a member of a local team or create your own. You can also reach out to your local chapter and get more information about volunteering or joining committees for specific duties.

What’s your favorite thing to do in your community? What do you like most about your community? I love the Panhandle and the people living here. I’ve never met so many kind and supportive people. I really enjoy attending community events and volunteering where my schedule allows. Helping others makes me happy. Outside of the Alzheimer’s Association, I mentor schoolchildren with the Elevate Bay Initiative and Boys and Girls Club. I also officiate girls’ lacrosse games around northwest Florida!

Kristen Kennedy, center, with viewers and fellow Walk to End Alzheimer’s participants at the 2021 Walk in Emerald Coast. Source.

Are you participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s? Here’s how YOU can add your flower to the fight to #ENDALZ:

✔️ Register at alz.org/cnfl/walk.

💰 Start fundraising and spread the word! We’ll provide tips & coaching every step of the way.

👟 Join us on Walk day.

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