By Mike Kruzman & Jon King /

Registration is open for an annual walk to help raise awareness of and fight a brain disorder that destroys memory and thinking skills, and a co-chair of the event is sharing his inspiration for taking part.

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the Alzheimer’s Association’s largest fundraiser of the year. Money raised supports free educational programming, support groups, 1-on-1 care consultation, and their 24/7 helpline. In its 11th year locally, the Walk is moving forward with plans to host the October 2nd event in person, while continuing to monitor the pandemic and make decisions for the health and safety of everyone as needed.

Howell businessman Don Cortez and his wife Sandie, who own First Impression Print & Marketing, are co-sharing this year's walk, along with Barb Binkley, who owns Cooper & Binkley Jewelers in Brighton. All three have personal experience with the disease. Binkley lost both of her parents to dementia; first her mother in 2013 and then her father five years later. Don Cortez said his mother passed away from dementia in May of 2019 while his father is currently battling Alzheimer’s. Cortez said the Alzheimer’s Association has been a great resource and helping head up the Walk is a way to give back and educate others in regards to what to do if a loved one is affected, how to do it, and what to expect.

Cortez said, “Know that whatever dollars we raise go to our local efforts in Livingston County to educate others and provide services. It’s certainly a worthwhile cause…especially if you’ve been affected by this hideous disease we call Alzheimer’s today.”

Cortez said caring for a loved one with the disease can be challenging at times, but you get a lot of good moments. As an example, he said he and his dad have become the closest they have in a long time.

Those interested in participating can now sign up online for the October 2nd event. Recruit five or more team members and raise a total of $500 before the end of May and each team member will receive a promise garden window cling.

Cortez and Binkley will both be guests this Sunday at 8:30am on WHMI's Viewpoint.