Walk for Alzheimer’s Stories

Read personal accounts of why people care so much about the Walk for Memories, and why they make such a success of their participation. You will be inspired!

Supporters’ Stories  2016

Collins Barrow - Giving Back for Over 20 Years

Collins

Cathy Skinner of Stittsville and her family are supporting the upcoming Walk for
Alzheimer's - Ottawa Community News

Ottawacommunity

‘I CAN DO IT’ WAS HER MOTTO - AND MOST OF THE TIME SHE COULD!

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Why Betty Shields Supports the Walk

BettyShields

Why Margaret Morton Supports the Walk for Alzheimer's

Margaret

The Walk for Alzheimer's - A Tangible Way to Help

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Supporters’ Stories (for 2015 event)

Holby’s Heroes: Something our family can do in support of families living with dementia

Fritsh

By Nicole Chenier-Cullen, Alzheimer Society Volunteer

Holby’s Heroes is the Walk for Memories team name for this family whose young patriarch, Dennis Holberton, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at age 56. Four years later, doctors realized that what he was suffering from was Lewy Body, a disease that is often misdiagnosed as it encompasses symptoms of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

“We could not believe that someone so young, so vibrant, so fiercely independent and proud could be stricken with this awful disease,” says daughter Jill Fritsch. “We knew absolutely nothing about it, and never realized how quickly it could progress”.

Dennis and his wife of 40 years, Barb, lived in Edmonton at the time. Jill and her husband had moved to Ottawa a few years earlier, and have two young children, Jaymeson who is now six years old, and Jackson four. The Fritsch family decided to build an apartment in their home for Bumpa and Nana, as the two are affectionately called, so that Jill, who is a stay-at-home mom, could help with her dad’s care.

One of their first stops was the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County. The family attended meetings and information sessions where they learned about the disease. While her dad goes to day programs and occasionally takes advantage of respite care such as that offered at the Guest House, her mom attends support groups for spouses. At the Society, Jill’s mom not only found a source of information and support, but one of friendship as well. “Mom didn’t have any friends when she first moved here” says Jill. “Tonight, she is going out to dinner with six other spouses from her support group. Sharing such difficult challenges really helps solidify friendships while easing the anxiety and sadness associated with this disease”.

What about the children? How are they taking this all in? Jill was amazed when she and her dad first went to the Society offices, that they were given a list of children’s books explaining the disease at their level. They were currently reading “Why did Grandma Put her Underwear in the Refrigerator” by Max Wallack and Carolyn Given. “The children are not seeing the disease, they’re just seeing their beautiful Bumpa” says Jill. “They have developed a very special bond with him, and he is helping create such a wonderful, caring person in each of them”.

In the Fritsch/Holberton household, the Walk for Memories has become an annual family affair and Holby’s Heroes will be an ongoing presence at the event. “People at the Society are making this journey so much easier for us” says Jill.  “Although seeing my dad walking around the track with the best of them can really tug at your heartstrings, we get a real sense of purpose knowing that we are doing something which is so important for our loved ones and our community”.

WALK FOR MEMORIES®, Ottawa’s premier indoor fundraising walk, is celebrating 20 great years on Sunday, January 25, 2015. This flagship fundraising event for the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County will take place at the Carleton University Fieldhouse with registration start at 8 a.m., Walk start at 9 a.m., and the event ending by noon. Funds raised at Walk for Memories® will stay in your community to help make a difference for people living with dementia. The local fundraising goal for 2015 is $275,000. Dementia is difficult, but this event is something positive we can all do to reach out and help. An event fun for the entire family, register now at www.walkformemories.ca or call 613-369-5627 for more information. Who are YOU walking for?

To learn more about dementia and the support, education and resources offered by the Alzheimer Society to families living with dementia, visit www.alzheimer.ca/ottawa.

 

Living with Alzheimer's: A Caregiver's Perspective

By David Greene

Reprinted with permission. Originally printed in ‘A Community of Support’ published by the Alzheimer Society of London and Middlesex. David Greene’s family in Ottawa will be participating in the Alzheimer Society’s January 25, 2015 Walk for Memories fundraiser under the team name of “Blister Sisters”.

 David Greene

 

My Dad is My Hero: That's Why I'm Supporting the Walk for Memories

Andrea

By Nicole Chenier-Cullen, Alzheimer Society Volunteer

Andrea Mailhot’s father was diagnosed with dementia one year ago this September.  She knew nothing about the disease.  She attended an information session offered by the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County, which was a godsend for her.

At this first session, Andrea heard about the Society’s signature fundraising event, the Walk for Memories. Two weeks later, she had organized a small team of volunteers to participate in this unique indoor walk. That first year would prove to be especially difficult for her, as it brought everything home.

“While it was heartwarming to see so many people supporting their loved ones who have dementia or walking in their memory, it suddenly sank in that my father, my hero, was now one of them” recalls Andrea. She remembers how the Society representative she had met at the information session noticed her crying, went over and walked a few laps with her. “She hardly knew me. I couldn’t believe it when she contacted me two weeks later, wanting to know how I was doing” says Andrea. “That’s how much they care”.  Although she only had two weeks to plan that first year, Andrea managed to raise some $400.

One of the most difficult challenges for Andrea is understanding how her father’s personality could change so drastically, so quickly. She continues utilizing the resources of the Society on a regular basis, receiving guidance on how to best care for and interact with him. “I don’t know how they do it” she says. “Whenever I send an email, I get an answer the same day”.

Andrea has found other novel ways to raise funds. For instance, she teamed up with a good friend who raises funds for the Breast Cancer Foundation, and the two share the proceeds of bake sales, bottle drives and garage sales organized throughout the year between the two charities.

Prominent at the Walk this year will be a poster of Andrea’s dad with a touching narrative of what he means to her.  “My dad is my hero” she wrote.  “He taught me everything I know…. He’s still a proud man, and I don’t want him to lose that part of himself. It’s hard watching him age so quickly, forgetting to eat…. being a prisoner in his own home”.

What is Andrea’s major motivation for participating in the Walk for Memories? “There is no other place where one can go for education about this awful disease, and we know so little about it” she says.  “The kind of support the Society offers is beyond amazing”.

WALK FOR MEMORIES®, Ottawa’s premier indoor fundraising walk, is celebrating 20 great years on Sunday, January 25, 2015. This flagship fundraising event for the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County will take place at the Carleton University Fieldhouse with registration start at 8 a.m., Walk start at 9 a.m., and the event ending by noon. Funds raised at Walk for Memories® will stay in your community to help make a difference for people living with dementia. The local fundraising goal for 2015 is $275,000.

Dementia is difficult, but this event is something positive we can all do to reach out and help. An event fun for the entire family, register now at www.walkformemories.ca or call 613-369-5627 for more information. To learn more about dementia and the support, education and resources offered by the Alzheimer Society to families living with dementia, visit www.alzheimer.ca/ottawa. Who are YOU walking for?

 

The Alzheimer Society's Walk for Memories: Much More Than a Fundraiser

Maria

By Nicole Chenier-Cullen, Alzheimer Society Volunteer

Maria Ceglia Perron was reveling in the unique joys of first-time motherhood and anticipating a fast approaching Christmas, when she received devastating news.  It was December 2009, and her grandfather, Guiseppe Varanese, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

They were a close-knit family.  Her grandparents had emigrated from Italy as young adults, and Maria’s mother was their only child.  Her grandfather worked for the same precast concrete company in Ottawa his entire life, never taking a vacation. He was enjoying a quiet retirement with his wife, generally tending to their home and gardens.

Maria became closely involved with her grandfather’s care.  She had taken a two-year maternity leave then started working for the Cancer Assessment Clinic.  “As horrible as cancer is.” Maria says, “once you’re diagnosed and see a surgeon, you have options, there is hope.  With Alzheimer’s, you get sent home after seeing the neurologist and you simply hit the wall, there is no cure.”   As happens in so many of these cases, her grandfather appeared healthy and normal, but then began exhibiting personality changes, which became very challenging for the entire family.

Maria turned to the local Alzheimer Society for advice on how to best support both her grandparents.  Ever since she was a teenager, she had participated in charitable and fundraising events. When she read about the Walk for Memories, the local Society’s major fundraiser, she immediately registered and participated for the first time in 2010.  She has been volunteering ever since, helping run the event’s popular Children’s Activity Centre.

Her grandfather died on March 12, 2013.  For Maria, it is difficult to forget all the suffering.   “People think that because you’re 80 years old, it’s ok to be forgetful.  They still crack jokes about it,” says Maria.  “That can be hurtful.  Little do people realize that you start losing your loved one the moment he is diagnosed. Unless you’ve lived it, you don’t understand it”.

By participating in the Walk for Memories, Maria feels that she is able to honour her grandfather’s memory. Seeing so many people involved in the event acts as an antidote and helps her to forget all the grief and sadness associated with this illness, while helping families like hers remember the good times. To register for Walk for Memories, go to www.walkformemories.ca or call 613-369-5627.

WALK FOR MEMORIES®, Ottawa’s premier indoor fundraising walk, is celebrating 20 great years on Sunday, January 25, 2015. This flagship fundraising event for the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County will take place at the Carleton University Fieldhouse with registration start at 8 a.m., Walk start at 9 a.m., and the event ending by noon. Funds raised at Walk for Memories® will stay in your community to help make a difference for people living with dementia. The local fundraising goal for 2015 is $275,000.

Dementia is difficult, but this event is something positive we can all do to reach out and help. An event fun for the entire family, register now at www.walkformemories.ca or call 613-369-5627 for more information. To learn more about dementia and the support, education and resources offered by the Alzheimer Society to families living with dementia, visit www.alzheimer.ca/ottawa. Who are YOU walking for?

 

Mom's The Word: That's Why We Are Supporting the Walk for Memories

Kat-Erica3

By Nicole Chenier-Cullen, Alzheimer Society Volunteer

Thelma Elizabeth Clarida had a million dollar smile. She was a registered nurse who raised eight children.  She was a vibrant, intelligent, loving wife, mother and grandmother. All that was taken away from her when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Over the next fifteen years, she would slowly deteriorate into a mere shadow of her former self until her death in 2011, at age 83.

After her husband died, Thelma moved from Sault Ste. Marie to Arnprior in order to be closer to her three daughters who lived in the Ottawa area. She was actively involved in her community and felt energized by the small-town atmosphere. However, according to daughter, Kat Clarida, “although she was still highly functional, we started noticing puzzling signs which raised alarm bells”. Kat recalled how her mother carried a card with her name and address written on it; she wrote notes to herself listing her children’s names and which grandchild belonged to whom. Then, one day, things came to a head when she could not find her way home. That’s when Kat decided that her mother should live with her. Soon afterwards, she took her to the Bruyère Memory Disorder Clinic where the Alzheimer diagnosis was confirmed.

According to Kat, it was a heartbreaking moment when her mother had to be placed in a long-term care facility, where she spent her last five years. “One of the worst frustrations was not understanding this disease, not knowing how to care for her ourselves”, says Kat.  “This is such a dreadful illness, the number of persons affected is horrendous, and it’s only getting worse”.

Shockingly, the family was faced with another tragedy when Kat’s stepchildren’s mother was also diagnosed with dementia. Her stepdaughter, Erica Ryan, told Kat about the services offered by the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County, and suggested they put together a team to participate in the Walk for Memories®, the Society’s major annual fundraiser. Their team, called Mom’s the Word, raised over $1,000 that first year.

“We loved the walk,” says Kat. “The venue is a wonderful, fun space; there is something for everyone”. Kat’s stepdaughters took their mom who enjoyed walking to the music and danced the entire time she was there. Kat and her sisters, Gwen and Ruth, wrote her mom’s story and put her picture up on the special photo wall made available for that purpose. “It was particularly heart-warming seeing so many people stop by and stare at all those photos”, she mentioned.

The family intends to continue participating in the Walk. This year, they will dress up in the two moms’ signature colours of red and purple.  “We’re going for flamboyant, goofy and fun” says Kat. “Mom was the most positive person we ever knew. She would love to know that we are remembering her in this way”.

WALK FOR MEMORIES®, Ottawa’s premier indoor fundraising walk, is celebrating 20 great years on Sunday, January 25, 2015. This flagship fundraising event for the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County will take place at the Carleton University Fieldhouse with registration start at 8 a.m., Walk start at 9 a.m., and the event ending by noon. Funds raised at Walk for Memories® will stay in your community to help make a difference for people living with dementia. The local fundraising goal for 2015 is $275,000.

Dementia is difficult, but this event is something positive we can all do to reach out and help. An event fun for the entire family, register now at www.walkformemories.ca or call 613-369-5627 for more information. To learn more about dementia and the support, education and resources offered by the Alzheimer Society to families living with dementia, visit www.alzheimer.ca/ottawa. Who are YOU walking for?

 

Simultaneous Fundraising in Two Countries -- A Unique Solution

Sheila

An Ottawa volunteer fund raiser has found a unique way to attend her brother’s wedding in Florida on January 25, while supporting Ottawa’s Alzheimer fund raiser, the Walk for Memories, at the same time.

Sheila Castledine is an enthusiastic participant in the Alzheimer Society’s Walk for Memories, along with some 25 family members, friends and colleagues. They are all part of Tootsie’s Team, named after her mother, who has dementia.

But Sheila was faced with a dilemma this year.  Her brother is getting married in Fort Lauderdale on the same January weekend as the Walk for Memories in Ottawa.  She was not going to let that deter her.  Sheila will stage her own Walk with family and friends in Fort Lauderdale on the weekend of January 25.

Tootsie’s Team (Sheila’s family team) will have a Florida edition, and an Ottawa edition, walking on the same weekend.

Sheila learned about the Walk for Memories when she first contacted her local Alzheimer Society for advice. “It was difficult to accept Mom’s diagnosis” says Sheila, “and when time came to find a retirement home for her, I didn’t know where to turn.”  An Alzheimer Society staff member helped her with good advice.

“It’s extremely reassuring to know that Mom can continue to enjoy living independently while receiving the right kind of care,” says Sheila.  “The Alzheimer Society helped a lot to make this important transition so much easier.”

Sheila’s husband, Michael, is manager of BMO Nesbitt Burns for Ottawa West. His company is a corporate sponsor of Tootsie’s Team, and many of his colleagues walk alongside family and friends.  Last year, Sheila and BMO staff members organized a bake sale, adding over $800 to the more than $7,000.00 already raised.

Sheila is particularly grateful for the company’s support. “Office staff made wonderful posters, and the Alzheimer Society provided us with balloons and banners which we posted all over the building,” says Sheila. “We had a lineup 15 minutes before the event!”

While Tootsie’s Ottawa Team may have to contend with cold and snow before reaching the warmth of the Carleton University Fieldhouse (where the Walk is held indoors), Tootsie’s Florida Team will walk some 10 kilometers down balmy Las Olas Boulevard in the Florida sunshine.

The two teams should have about 15 to 20 members each, including Sheila’s brother and his new wife, who will start off their honeymoon that morning with their Walk.  Sheila even stirred up interest amongst the local Hilton hotel staff, and the two groups will stay in touch through Skype.

What drives Sheila to be such a dedicated, eager participant in the Walk for Memories?  “It is incredibly comforting to know that such expert, thoughtful advice is just a phone call away,” says Sheila.  ‘The Alzheimer Society’s services are truly invaluable for the person with dementia and their entire families. I want to make sure this continues.”

WALK FOR MEMORIES®, Ottawa’s premier indoor fundraising walk, is celebrating 20 great years on Sunday, January 25, 2015. This flagship fundraising event for the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County will take place at the Carleton University Fieldhouse with registration start at 8 a.m., Walk start at 9 a.m., and the event ending by noon. Funds raised at Walk for Memories® will stay in your community to help make a difference for people living with dementia. The local fundraising goal for 2015 is $275,000.

Dementia is difficult, but this event is something positive we can all do to reach out and help. An event fun for the entire family, register now at www.walkformemories.ca or call 613-369-5627 for more information. To learn more about dementia and the support, education and resources offered by the Alzheimer Society to families living with dementia, visit www.alzheimer.ca/ottawa. Who are YOU walking for?

 

Supporters’ Stories (for 2014 event)

Out of the Shadows - Why 30-year old Eli Duerrn is so passionate about supporting the Alzheimer Society

 

EliAlzheimer Story

By Eli Duern, Alzheimer Society Supporter

A cherished moment for Eli Duern of an earlier time with his father. (Photo courtesy: E. Duern)

My life was pretty average for a 30-year-old.  I worked, went to school, had time with family and friends, and then repeated.  Two years ago, all of that changed.  My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

You don’t really take the time to think about the impact that an aging parent’s disease may have on you until after the fact, especially when dealing with dementia.

My father and I had a very strong relationship when I was young, but like many fathers and sons, over time we lost some of the bonds that we cherished.  And now with his disease, I was scared that I would never be able to rebuild those bonds.

Not many people know about Alzheimer’s, and what is known is usually more fiction than fact.  There is so much stigma that surrounds dementia that those who suffer, and the families that care for them, remain in the shadows, afraid to speak out for fear of ridicule and isolation.

I am fortunate to have a support system around me which helped me find the strength to speak out when others could not.  Through this support, I was able to learn more, and later to work with the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County.

The Society is a not-for-profit organization that works directly with Alzheimer’s disease sufferers and their families.  They are a small organization with big hearts, and their work helps raise public awareness for a disease that is becoming more of a concern in an aging population.

The people within the organization have provided me with love and support that I would not have expected from a group of strangers.  They have not only provided me with a welcome ear, but they have shown me the care that you would expect from close friends and family.

Every January, the Alzheimer Society hosts a fundraising event called the Walk for Memories.  Following my father’s diagnosis, I was encouraged to participate and what I saw was amazing.  The number of people that were gathered to show their support and share their stories for a single cause, a somewhat unknown cause, was heartwarming.  It was proof that my family and I were not alone.

The Walk for Memories helps raise awareness and break the stigmas that surround the disease.  There is no hiding in the shadows, there is no isolation; only smiling faces and open arms.  Entire communities gather together on this day to shine a light of hope for those who find it hard to speak out.

I love my father deeply, and I know that he still loves me; we are just finding new ways to express that love.  Even though his mind has begun to wander, his heart and soul remain the same, and I think that is the most important thing to remember.  He is and always will be my loving father, but he is suffering from a disease that has no cure.

My story is far from over, really it has only begun.  I don’t know which paths it will take or what the ending will look like, but at least it is out of the shadows.

The Walk for Memories, Ottawa’s premier indoor fundraising walk, takes place on Sunday, January 26 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Carleton University Fieldhouse. The local Alzheimer Society’s goal is $275,000 with funds raised staying in Ottawa and Renfrew County to help people living with dementia. Form a team, or come out as an individual and join in the fun. Ask your family, friends and colleagues to join you, or to sponsor your Walk. To register, go to www.walkformemories.ca or call 613-523-4004.
To learn more about dementia and the support, education and resources offered by the Alzheimer Society to families living with dementia, visit www.alzheimer.ca/Ottawa.

 

Barrhaven family walks to support “Gammie”

TheGammies

In honour of a mom and mother-in-law, who were also good griends, Marianne Morrison and her family will be participating in the Alzheimer Society’s Walk for memories on January 26, 2014 under the team name of “The Gammies”.

By Jane Stratton, Alzheimer Society Volunteer

Beverly worked as an executive at The Bay in Montreal. There were occasions on which she lost her professional demeanour. Like the time her doctor advised that she should let up on the lawn bowling so her epicondilytis would heal.  Beverely scoffed, “Lawn bowling?! Doctor, I chop a cord of wood a week to heat my cabin!” That was Beverley – tough and resilient. Executive by day, pioneer at night.

After her husband died and her children had grown, Beverley moved out to their cottage in the Laurentians. Every year, she baked on the wood oven for weeks on end to fill her freezer. Then, car laden with cakes, pies and cookies, she made the trek to spend Christmas with her daughter Marianne Morrison and family in Ottawa.

Beverley eventually left the Laurentians and decamped to British Columbia with her second husband. After he died, Marianne visited and noticed that her mother couldn’t even make coffee. She brought her home with her to Ottawa. The family hoped it was the stress of the grief and the move, but after a while came a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Beverly stayed with the family in Barrhaven for quite some time. At 92, she is now in a nursing home. Then, a couple of years ago, Marianne’s mother-in-law was also diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The family has made good use of the services of the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County over the years.

Since learning about the Society’s fundraising Walk for Memories, they have been proud to join in. Marianne and Gord, along with their three daughters, and Gord’s sister Anne (with baby in tow), all participated for the first time last year. They are gearing up to walk again on January 26, 2014 – all sporting t-shirts with their team name “The Gammies”.

The Walk for Memories, Ottawa’s premier indoor fundraising walk, takes place on Sunday, January 26 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Carleton University Fieldhouse. The local Alzheimer Society’s goal is $275,000 with funds raised staying in Ottawa and Renfrew County to help people living with dementia. Form a team, or come out as an individual and join in the fun. Ask your family, friends and colleagues to join you, or to sponsor your Walk. To register, go to www.walkformemories.ca or call 613-523-4004.

To learn more about dementia and the support, education and resources offered by the Alzheimer Society to families living with dementia, visit www.alzheimer.ca/ottawa.

 

Meet Walk for Memories volunteers Wendy and Larry Smith

WendyLarrySmith

Wendy and Larry Smith have been volunteering for the Alzheimer Society’s Walk for Memories in Ottawa since its inception 19 years ago. Like the Walk, Wendy and Larry have experienced a number of changes during that period of time.

In the beginning, Wendy worked for an Ottawa-based Chartered Accounting firm, Collins Barrow Ottawa LLP, which had encouraged its employees to get involved in the community. The Alzheimer Society was one of a number of organizations that Collins Barrow supported.  Employees and family members alike from the organisation became involved with this great cause. This was the start of the Smiths ongoing history of volunteering for the Alzheimer Society.

Little did they know that Alzheimer’s disease would touch close to home some years later!

In 1995, the Walk for Memories was based at the Carlingwood Mall. It was a great place to begin an activity that combined exercise with a good cause. Max Keeping, a local broadcast legend, was an infectious spirit who would lead the bagpiper round the Mall with the walkers following in their footsteps on a quest to raise money for this worthy cause. In recent years, the Walk for Memories was relocated to its present-day location of Carleton University’s Field House.

Throughout its history, the Walk provided an opportunity for the Smiths and others to gather together as a united front to support this worthy cause. However, it wasn’t long until the annual walk became more meaningful for the Smiths when it was revealed that Wendy’s aunt and Larry’s father were both diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

While volunteering as a registration pair, it gave them an opportunity to talk to individuals walking for their loved ones who had succumbed to this dreaded disease. Year after year, they would recognize the walkers, share stories, measure progress against their own loved ones as Alzheimer’s continued to mark progress on the unsuspecting prey. Collectively, they believed that by participating in the annual Walk they were making a difference in the fight against this debilitating disease.

Although their loved ones have passed on and the goal of a cure has not yet been realized, the Smiths remain committed to supporting the annual Walk for Memories. Each year, the end of January calls for a renewed commitment to continue the fight against this disease.

Although the faces of past walkers fade away, new faces pick up and the battle continues towards better treatment and – hopefully – a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

This year, Walk for Memories takes place on Sunday, January 26, 2014 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon inside Carleton University Fieldhouse. Join as an individual or in a team to help the Alzheimer Society reach the local goal of $275,000. All proceeds are used to provide support, education and resources for people with dementia, as well as their families and caregivers. Info: www.walkformemories.ca.

 

Holly Kole: Five Years of Fun, Family, and Awareness

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By Eli Duern, Alzheimer Society Volunteer (Dec. 2013)
For the last five years, Holly Kole has waited in anticipation at Carleton University’s Fieldhouse for the clock to strike 11 a.m. This is a magical time, where she gets to join and take part in the excitement and enthusiasm of all the participants of the Alzheimer Society’s Walk for Memories.

“I used to work at the accounting firm Collins Barrow, which was the lead sponsor of the Walk for Memories,” says Holly. “Through the firm, I was encouraged to get involved with the community, and thought that working with the society and one of their largest fundraising events would be a perfect fit.”

Now at Cavanagh Construction, Holly chose to stay on because of the people that are involved with the Walk and the Society, “the high spirits and warm attitude that they bring is infectious.”

Like many, Holly didn’t know much about Alzheimer’s disease, or the work that the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County does for those in need. “I wasn’t aware of the stigmas, mostly the isolation that those who suffer go through,” says Holly, “but now, after volunteering with the Society for the last five years, I’ve gone from knowing nothing to a lot more. It is great to see how immense the Society’s support is and how hard they work for the various families in need.”

The Walk for Memories, which takes place during Alzheimer Awareness Month in January, is celebrating 19 years of care and support to the community this year.  It has seen a number of changes over this time: it has moved out of Carlingwood Mall to Carleton University’s Fieldhouse and it has also seen a rise in the number of youth who participate. The youth that are involved have brought more energy and enthusiasm to the Walk, which is showing hope for the future of the Walk and the Society.

Holly encourages all who are willing to get involved. “It’s not an invisible disease, but it doesn’t get a lot of media or medical attention, so it’s great to help showcase the need for support. Giving back to the community for such an important cause becomes rewarding and fun.”

For those who are curious about the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County, or their annual Walk for Memories, and interested in volunteering, Holly offers this advice:

  • Call the Society. They appreciate all offers of support and make sure to involve the volunteers where they would benefit the most, and have the most fun;
  • Get involved by raising a team and help get as much money donated as possible;
  • There is no task too small to help, so if you are interested, do it.

For more information about the Walk for Memories and the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County, visit www.alzheimer.ca/ottawa. Join in on the fun, be part of the Society’s family, and help raise awareness for a worthy cause.

 

As long as you have shoes, you can walk!

SHoesWalk

Cindy McKay’s team at the 2012 Walk for Memories

Cumberland resident Cindy McKay is an energetic young mother who believes in giving back her community. When she saw an ad for the Alzheimer’s Walk for Memories last year she jumped at the chance to get involved.

The cause was especially personal for her, as her husband’s grandfather had recently passed away from the disease. The family is appreciative of all the support given to them by the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County.

Under the banner “Team Arnold” she and her group raised $1000 last year. Since the loss of ‘Opa’ was fresh in everyone’s mind, family and friends were generous with donations. She sent out a mass e-mail just three weeks before the event and people were quick to jump on board, both as walkers and donors.

“I’ve participated in a number of similar events, “ Cindy says “but I was surprised at how smoothly organized the Walk for Memories was, especially given the number of walkers.” When she and her team arrived on site, it took only a couple of minutes to get registered.

The music in the background, combined with the spirit of camaraderie, made the Walk go by quickly. The host, the ever colourful Kurt Stoodley from CTV Morning Live, made the morning especially fun.

“There are a lot of charity fundraising runs out there and they attract a certain sort of participant,” Cindy comments. “But almost everyone can participate in the Walk for Memories, regardless of fitness level. You don’t even necessarily have to finish, if it’s too much for you. As long as you have shoes, you can walk!”

Cindy and her husband plan to make this a family tradition and help keep the memory of a beloved grandfather alive.

 

Going “up home” with Mom at the Walk for Memories

Briansmom

Madeleine Lyng

“My mother ( Madeleine Lyng ) grew up on a farm just behind St. Clare’s Catholic Church on Dwyer Hill Road south of Franktown Road. After she finished her schooling she left for Montreal where she married and raised a family of four.When we children were young our entire family would travel to the Ottawa area and visit relatives. We would all say  that we were going up home.

In 1993 when my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s we were all devastated as she was a warm, funny, compassionate and intelligent person. Living in Toronto at the time and wanting to do something to help in any way I became involved in the Alzheimer’s Walk for Memories. Since moving to the Ottawa area a few years ago I have continued my association with the Walk.

Doing the Walk gives me a chance to re-connect with her while raising money for a very worthy cause. While on the walk I think of her and some of the memories she shared of life on a farm in the 1920s and 1930s. One particular story she was fond of relating occurred on the farm when she was young. Her brother Jimmy was in the barn milking one of the cows. As she was walking into the barn he was able to squirt her with fresh warm milk straight from the cow – right into her open mouth. It was an experience and a taste she never forgot.

The walk is truly a walk of and for memories. On the day of the Alzheimer’s Walk for Memories

I am once again going up home with my Mom.” – Brian McKerness

 

Kanata Resident and her Bell’s Corner’s Firm Raise Money for Alzheimer’s

LauraKurtTracey

Laura Tippett, Kurt Stoodley and Tracey Page

Tracey Pagé was at a meeting at Collins Barrow Chartered Accountants back in the mid-1990’s discussing how their firm could best give back to the community. She had been impressed with support provided to her family by the Ottawa Alzheimer Society when her grandfather developed Alzheimer’s disease.

She knew the Alzheimer Society was underfunded.  Her associates were quick to jump on board and they resolved that the best plan was to establish an annual fundraising event.  Between staff at Collins Barrow, the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County, and other local businesses, the Ottawa Walk for Memories was born.

Partners and principals at the Collins Barrow were quick to step forward to help with registration. It was a great fit. Who better to deal with accepting donations than a team of accountants?

Collins Barrow continues its tradition of involvement with the event  as lead sponsor to this day. From junior staff members on up to senior partners, many hands pitch in – sometimes even after retirement! Tracey notes that one previous staff member, Wendy Smith, has participated with her husband Larry almost every year, even since she retired from the firm.

Tracey and her extended family have been there every year. ”We were worried the year of the ice storm,” Tracey says. But not even that natural disaster kept people away.

“My kids have been in the Walk since they were in utero!” she continues. “I was doing so much running around as a volunteer nine months pregnant with my first son, Robbie, that we were all sure he would be born on site!”

Having had a second occasion to appreciate the Alzheimer Society when her own father was diagnosed with a type of dementia, Tracey points out that aging and its pitfalls are something we all have to deal with.  “We, or someone we know, will be affected by Alzheimer’s eventually in one way or another,” she says.  “So it’s important to help while we can.”

 

Renfrew County family is giving back for Alzheimer’s

Faye Larwill (nee McGee) was the matriarch of the Larwill family. Every year until 2012 she walked with her family at the Alzheimer Society’s annual fund raiser, the Walk for Memories – until she was unable to do it any more.

Faye’s daughter Trish was raised in Kanata, and now lives in Kinburn. She and her extended family proudly participate under the team name “Faye’s Family”. The team involved three generations of the family. Donations  support the programs of the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County.

“We have been really helped by the services offered by the Alzheimer Society, including support groups for family members, and access to a day program,” says Trish. The family intends to keep investing in the services offered by the Society – both as a payback for help received, and as an investment against potential future need.

Understandably, Trish and her sister, as well as Faye’s own siblings, are on the watch for signs of Alzheimer’s disease amongst themselves. Luckily, the McGee/Larwill family are a close-knit bunch who still observe the old custom of Sunday dinners together.

Trish knows they will always be there for one another should the need arise, just like they pulled together to help her Mom. “But caregiving is tough to go alone,” she points out. “So it’s comforting to know that the Alzheimer Society will be there should we need them again. And if we don’t need them, then it feels good to help other people by doing this fund raising at the Walk for Memories.”

Trish recalls how, as they were preparing to participate in the Walk for Memories in 2009, “Mom went missing for the first time. She left the house, on that frigid January morning, wearing only a light spring coat and her running shoes, and wandered the neighbourhood.”

A good samaritan called 911 when they spotted her in the parking lot of a local shopping mall, cold and very confused.  Paramedics took her in to warm up, while police found Dad, who was out driving the local streets looking for her. Dad got her dressed and brought her to the Walk for Memories. It was a sobering reminder of the dangers of this disease.

 

Stop Standing on the Sidelines and Get in the Game!

Ronaphoto

Moya Hamilton, Nora Hamilton and Rona Hamilton

That would be the perfect slogan to have printed on a team shirt for Rona Hamilton to wear when she participates in the Alzheimer Society’s annual fundraiser, the Walk for Memories. The Ottawa Walk for Memories raises funds to help people locally who are dealing with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia.

Manotick resident Rona is no wallflower! On top of a busy hospital job, she has walked every year for five years and she and her team have raised over $10,000. She and her sister Moya have strong motivation – both their mother and grandmother developed Alzheimer’s disease.

Rona finds fundraising for the Walk a great opportunity to educate others about the issues around the disease.  She remarks on how appropriate it is that the Alzheimer Society has chosen a walk as their signature fundraiser.

“The fact that we have a fitness related event reinforces the importance of physical health for disease prevention,” she says.

The Rona and Moya’s team was initially called Nora, after their Mom. But now that the team has expanded to include other families, they take a letter from the name of each family member who has been afflicted with the disease, and create a different team name each year.

Rona can’t say enough good things about the Walk for Memories. “ It’s a really upbeat and positive event.  The volunteers are tremendous; everything is well-organized; the Carleton Fieldhouse is a great venue; the entertainment is tops; there is great music – the list goes on!”

But Rona’s favourite part of the event has to be the Memory Wall. Rona explains, “Every year, walkers bring photos of their loved ones – family members who are still in the midst of their battle and those who have passed on.  It’s both a heart-warming and troubling thing to look at!  Heart-warming because there are so many family photos that capture the good times. Troubling because so many people are impacted by this awful disease.”

 

Walk for Memories - An unforgettable time for this LeBreton Flats resident

KimMalcolm

Kim Malcolm

The forget-me-not is the official symbol of the Alzheimer Society. Forget-me-nots are tenacious little plants. Self-sowing bi-annuals, they keep coming back every year.

Kim Malcolm and her companions are like that. Kim has participated in the Alzheimer Society’s fundraising Walk for Memories for three years now and is gearing up for her fourth. She’s hardy and determined, just like the flower.

As she embarks on her seventh decade of life, Kim’s motivation is a little self-interested.  “A lot of people my age see volunteering for the Alzheimer Society like taking out an insurance policy,” she says. “But it’s also loads of fun to join the Walk. There are little prizes, it’s over quickly, and it gives you a good feeling.”

Around the time that Kim was about to embark on her first Walk, her niece’s mother-in-law died of Alzheimer’s disease. Kim put out a call to friends and relatives and raised $2300 to help fund the many programs and services offered by the Alzheimer Society.

Kim’s technique is to send an e-mail to 30 people  explaining that she is going to walk in the Walk for Memories, and inviting them to join her. She also suggests that if they are not able  to join her, they can sponsor her instead. Kim has found that it was easier to ask this way.

“I think that giving people the option of walking with me rather than donating directly makes it easier to ask for money,”  she explains. The fact that the Walk for Memories is held inside and is a walk, not a run, appeals to a lot of her acquaintances.

From her home in LeBreton Flats, Kim is looking forward to the fun. Each year she’s had a slightly different group of people on her team, ‘The Unforgettables’.  Some are old friends and some are strangers to each other. But by the end of the event they are strangers no more. “You can’t beat it!” says Kim, “It’s a feel-good event with free entertainment.”

 

Young people helping older people - that's what it's all about!

LindaGarciasteam

 

Linda Garcia and her team in 2012

Each year Dr. Linda Garcia encourages her students to help people in the Ottawa community who are dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. This  includes entering a team in the Alzheimer Society’s annual fund raiser, the Walk for Memories, scheduled for January 27, 2013.

Dr. Garcia is Professor and Director at the Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences and Associate Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Ottawa. “I’m totally motivated on this issue,” says Dr. Garcia. “I’ve been working in the field of dementia research since 1991 and worked as a clinician for 10 years prior to that. I hear such heart-wrenching stories of people dealing with dementia, and the changes they have to make in their lives. They need help, and we need to find the money to get them that help!”

Dr. Garcia wants her students to understand what it means to work with people who are dealing with dementia. She says she is lucky to be able to count on the leadership of the Health Sciences Students’ Association (HSSA).  HSSA president and fourth year student Meghan

Perrin says she will be supporting the Walk for Memories in January for the third year in a row. “I love the event,” she says. “Our association gets involved in many events and it’s great to be able to give back. This one has a personal touch for me since my great-uncle passed away from Alzheimer’s disease. So this walk is especially meaningful.”

Another supportive student and member of the HSSA is fourth year student Sophie Bourgeois, who will also be participating for the third year. “I get involved for two reasons,” she explains. “It’s very important, because of the increased numbers of people living with dementia and the incredible needs these people have. The event is great because everyone has a good time and it’s heartwarming to see people from all generations coming together to raise funds. Young people can take on the leadership to help older people. That’s what it’s all about!”

The Walk for Memories is the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County’s single biggest fund raiser during the year. Some 600 walkers are expected to raise at least $225,000. Fundraising proceeds are used for education and support for people in Ottawa and Renfrew County who are dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, as well as to support research.

“This is a great opportunity to make a difference,” says Dr. Garcia. “I love this event because it’s exciting – it’s a fun way to spend half a Sunday in late January, and for such an important cause.

I’d encourage anyone who’d like to give it a try to come on out and join in. Many people think it is outside and are concerned about freezing in the cold, but it’s an indoor event and the music gets us all going.”

Entitled Health Science EntourAGE, the University of Ottawa team wants to challenge other teams from Ottawa’s ‘institutions of higher learning’ to get involved and raise lots of money.

“It’s true that students don’t have a whole lot of money,” says Meghan. “But if they start early enough, they can get people to sponsor them. For instance, I ask my family and friends to sponsor my Walk rather than giving me Christmas gifts. Every little bit helps!”