‘Alzheimer’s is real:’ Walk raises $16,500 for Sask. programming

Participants begin the first lap, the memory lap, around the track at the Walk for Alzheimer's on Jan. 26, 2020. Each person was given a flower to represent a loved one with Alzheimer's disease. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

“It’s a disease that no one really wants to think about and no one really wants to talk about.” – Laura Erickson-Lumb

Sunday’s Walk for Alzheimer’s brought together dozens who have been affected by the disease, including an avid Prince Albert philanthropist.

The walk, which took place at the indoor track of the Alfred Jenkins Fieldhouse, raised $16,500 for programming in the province. This includes a donation from Canadian Tire, which agreed to match contributions up to $10,000.

Laura Erickson-Lumb—Alzheimer’s Society of Saskatchewan First Link Coordinator for Prince Albert—said the money goes to programs and services such as Minds in Motion, Caregiver Support Groups, Coffee Clubs and Evenings of Education.

“They’re free—and this is the reason why,” she said.

Laura Erickson-Lumb of the Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan speaks to participants at the Walk for Alzheimer’s on Jan. 26, 2020. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada’s website, Alzheimer’s disease destroys brain cells, causing a decline in memory and thinking. The fatal disease affects your cognitive and functional abilities, emotions and moods, behaviour and physical abilities.

There is no cure.

Erickson-Lumb said about 20,000 people have been diagnosed in Saskatchewan; however, there’s an estimated 10,000 more who haven’t received a diagnosis.

“We do the Walk for Alzheimer’s for a number of reasons, but first and foremost is to raise awareness. Alzheimer’s is real. It affects so many people in your neighbourhood, your communities, your families,” she said.

“People with Alzheimer’s are often forgotten. It’s a disease that no one really wants to think about and no one really wants to talk about and so this is a way to get it out there for people to at least start becoming more aware that it’s here.”

A common misconception is that Alzheimer’s is an “old person’s disease.” Early onset Alzheimer’s occurs before the age of 65, said Erickson-Lumb, and she suspected there’s probably people in their 40s who have it.

Bagpipers lead the memory lap around the track at the Walk for Alzheimer’s on Jan. 26, 2020. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

The Alzheimer Society hopes to reduce these stigmas through their campaign called I live with dementia. Let me help you understand. Throughout January for Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, people affected by the disease are speaking out about their experiences.

“It’s not the other guy anymore, right? That’s your neighbour, that’s your friend, that’s somebody’s daughter. It puts a very public face on a very private event,” said Erickson-Lumb about the campaign’s importance.

Canadian Tire Owner Malcolm Jenkins said he decided to contribute to the cause because both his mother and sister passed away with Alzheimer’s.

“To see the deterioration, it’s very sad. They still recognized me towards the end, but it got tougher and tougher,” said Jenkins.

“It’s so very tough on the people surrounding them. My dad had a really tough time and my brother-in-law too because they’re living with it daily and they’re seeing the fading away of the ones they’ve been close to for so very, very long.”

Canadian Tire Owner Malcolm Jenkins speaks to participants at the Walk for Alzheimer’s on Jan. 26, 2020. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

Jenkins’ mother passed away 18 years ago, and his sister just last year. Both were living in Ontario.

Each person who participated in the Walk for Alzheimer’s received a flower, donated by Scentiments Floral, in memory of their loved ones. Participants also filled out a ‘forget me not’ flower to be placed on a memory wall.

IG Wealth Management was the event’s national sponsor. Local sponsors included the Northern Lights Casino, Boston Pizza and Lake Country Co-op.

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