Saultites of all ages gathered at White Pines Collegiate and Vocational School on Sunday afternoon to participate in the 21st annual Alzheimer’s Walk, walking the halls of the high school.
This family-friendly event – which included balloon making, face painting, and other activities for children to enjoy – raised over $44,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society.
IG Financial also came on board this year as a national sponsor of the event, with a team participating in Sunday’s walk.
“Today is a day to celebrate people coming together, helping the Alzheimer’s Society raising funds for our services on Trunk Road,” Alzheimer Society of Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma District Resource Development Coordinator Bea Fioramanti told SaultOnline.
Fiormati said this event is also a way to raise awareness about what services the Alzheimer’s Society offers, but it’s also important to note that it’s a fundraiser.
All funds raised remain local, with the exception of $10,000 annually that goes towards research.
“We feel it’s very important for us to find a cure,” she said. “And it’s important for people to know about the disease and the services that we have. You don’t need to go down this journey alone.”
Joan Desjardin was Honourary Chair at this year’s event. This is her third year attending, and her first year walking in memory of her late husband Denis, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years ago and passed away last March.
Desjardi said the Alzheimer’s Society has been a huge help, right from the second her husband was diagnosed until he passed away.
Because of this, Desjardin matched any donations made at the event, dollar-for-dollar, raising approximately an additional $4,000 for the Society.
She said she wouldn’t be where she is today if it wasn’t for them.
“I’d be in turmoil,” she said, explaining that the thoughtfulness and caring staff helped her out in ways she’d never have thought of, such as advising her to get a Power of Attorney for herself as well as to get all of their finances in order, such as bank accounts and insurance policies.
“‘Because you don’t think of these things,” she said.
Desjardin and her husband also utilized some of the services offered, attending an education program – where Denis related immediately to the guest speaker – as well as Minds in Motion, which Desjardin said her husband loved, and the Day Away program, which he attended three days a week.
“One of the reasons (he loved it) was that there was a gentleman there that worked at Algoma Steel, and he related with him and it made him more comfortable,” she explained. “He (just) loved going there – in fact, he wanted to go on the days they weren’t open.”
Desjardin also started attending a caretakers group for herself, which she was a part of for four years. She said it helped her navigate her way through her husband’s disease.
“(The group) was a wealth of knowledge, and sharing,” she said. “Because it’s a difficult disease – one day it’s okay and the next day it’s not. So you’re not sure whether that’s an issue or not, but when you mention it at the table, everybody else is shaking their head yes, that’s the way it is, then it’s certainly helpful.”
She said the Alzheimer’s Society’s suggestions and help “certainly enhanced the quality of our lives.”
This walk takes place again next weekend in Elliot Lake.
To learn more about January awareness month, click here.
For more information on the Alzheimer’s Society and the services they offer, visit their website here.