17th Walk for Alzheimer’s set for Sunday

May 25, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Pickford

The 17th annual Walk for Alzheimer’s Dufferin County takes place this Sunday at Island Lake Conservation Area, with event organizers hoping to exceed last year’s fundraising total and make the 2017 trek the best one yet.

They may have their work cut out for them though with last year’s total of $54,000 raised and a pool of 240 participants going down as the most successful year in event history. With the help of the community however, Tracy Koskamp-Bergeron, Executive Director of the Alzheimer Society of Dufferin County, hopes the 2017 event could go one step further and exceed all expectations.

“We’ve put a lot of planning into this year’s walk and have decided to do things a little differently from last time around,” Ms. Koskamp-Bergeron said. “Of course, as always, the emphasis will be on the walk itself, but this year we’re introducing a few other fun activities. We’re going to have some brain games on hand, a raffle table, we’re going to have speeches from local dignitaries and then we’ll have a caregiver come in and talk about her journey and how the Alzheimer Society has helped and supported her.”

She added, “So this year we’re going for a more well-rounded event that, we hope, will appeal to even more people. Our hope is definitely to exceed last year’s fundraising total… To double the number of participants would be fantastic.”

The walk takes place out at the Island Lake Conservation Centre, with registration starting at 8:30 a.m. and festivities beginning at 10 a.m. As in previous years, there will be three different trails on offer for participants – 1.5, three and eight kilometres. There is no registration fee attached to this year’s walk, something Ms. Koskamp-Bergeron hopes will help boost the event’s final fundraising total.

“We’ve eliminated that fee completely this year. It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a while and allows for people to just donate to the cause rather than having to pay a set fee,” Ms. Koskamp-Bergeron said. “We’re really just asking people to open their hearts and give to what is an incredibly worthwhile cause.”

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for between 60 and 80 percent of dementia cases across the globe. Statistics indicate there will be roughly 25,000 newly diagnosed cases of Alzheimer’s this year, with 565,000 Canadians currently living with some form of dementia.

Here in Dufferin County the local Alzheimer Society provides numerous services and programs to approximately 430 families throughout the region. With its office on Centennial Road, Orangeville serves as the central hub for much of the organization’s programming. With various educational initiatives supplementing such local staples as the First Link Program and Making Memories Group, there’s always something going on at the facility.

“The Making Memories group especially is something we’ve very proud of. It’s essentially a peer support group where individuals and families can come in and talk about pretty much anything they want. One day they could talk about cemetery plots, then discuss special memories and experiences they’ve had in their life – it doesn’t need to specifically focus around Alzheimer’s,” Ms. Koskamp-Bergeron said. “We started with five people enrolled in this program back in September and last week we had 26 people come out. We’re planning to expand this group into Shelburne, while also adding another day here in Orangeville, such has been its success.”

The primary focus for now though remains on this weekend’s walk, which Ms. Koskamp-Bergeron hopes will be incredibly popular.

“We’re excited… The weather is supposed to be nice and so we’re hoping to have a massive crowd out supporting us in what is our largest fundraiser of the year. It can be very emotional when you’re out there and start walking alongside all of these people and you realize you’re all there for the same cause,” she said. “Alzheimer’s is one of the most difficult challenges of getting older as an adult, it’s what people fear the most – the fear of losing their memory, losing those closest to them and losing control of their life. Our job is to be here to support people as they make that journey.”

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