KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — It’s a startling statistic: more than 300,000 unpaid caregivers are watching over more than 120,000 Alzheimer’s patients in Tennessee. That’s according to the Alzheimer’s Association in Knoxville.

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Saturday, Oct. 2, at Zoo Knoxville raises funds to provide resources and support for families dealing with this terrible disease.

One longtime volunteer who signed up when his employer got involved, never dreamed the impact Alzheimer’s would have on his own family.

Darron Kidwell has become a familiar face at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. He proudly wears the signature purple and has become one of the largest fundraisers for the Alzheimer’s Association. Darron’s dedication began several years ago in support of co-workers and their families who were dealing with Alzheimer’s.

So when Darron’s dad, Leon, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s type dementia five years ago, and his mother Frances devoted herself to his care at home, the walk took on an even deeper meaning for Darron.

“I always said I did this for my mom as much as I did my dad,” Darron said, “because she was his caregiver.”

Sadly, Frances, who was diagnosed with dementia in February, passed away in June from health complications, leaving a grieving family with new concerns for Leon.

“Our family’s journey,” Darron said, “is losing that Alzheimer’s caregiver.”

Thankfully, Darron knows where to find resources through the Alzheimer’s Association and ALZ.org; resources that depend on the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Programs and support groups through the Alzheimer’s Association are free for patients and their families, thanks to donations that pour into the walk. This year’s goal is $165,000. The Walk to End Alzheimer’s starts at 8:30 a.m. with a program, with the walk kicking off at 9 a.m. Online registration is closed but you can show up at 7 a.m. to register in person at the zoo.