Shuswap residents are encouraged to walk their way through May to show support for those affected by dementia.
The Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s largest fundraiser, the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s, raises funds for the society’s programs and services by people registering and fundraising for the walk.
Participants will walk on their own throughout May, before joining an online celebration on Sunday, May 30.
People can participate in honour of those in their own lives who have been affected by dementia, or they can walk for Salmon Arm couple Peter Gook and Susan Martin.
They are the event’s dedicated honorees in Vernon.
Although that may sound confusing, there is an explanation.
If you see the couple running through the streets of Salmon Arm, you would not guess Gook is living with Alzheimer’s disease. As a self-reliant man who still loves his work and regularly runs 10-k races, he struggles to accept it.
“I was absolutely shocked,” he said of his diagnosis. “You have this idea of what someone with Alzheimer’s is like and when it happens to you, it’s totally different.”
The common perception that a person is no longer capable of doing all the things they did before they developed the disease is what motivated the couple to drive to Vernon to access Alzheimer Society of B.C. resources, rather than connect with the society’s resources in Salmon Arm.
Gook is passionate about his work as a locksmith and didn’t want the stigma surrounding the disease to jeopardize his business by sharing his diagnosis with people in his community.
The couple is now ready to bring more visibility to dementia, to motivate people who may be struggling with their diagnosis to reach out for support and to know that they’re not alone in their community.
“We have such an opportunity to make people aware and have a positive impact,” Martin said. “People need to know. We need to know what we can do to slow it down or to one day stop it because it’s affecting so many people.”
To register for the walk, visit walkforalzheimers.ca, choose your community and create a fundraising page to share with friends and family.
No matter where or when you walk (in accordance with current public health orders), participants will make a difference in the lives of people living with dementia and their caregivers.