An unofficial Alzheimer’s Walk was held in Clinton last weekend, to raise funds and lend support to families dealing with the disease.
About 20 people met on May 30 at Reg Conn Park to participate in the informal walk. It was organized by Robin Fennell, whose wife, Blanche, has Alzheimer’s.
“The Alzheimer Society is a very important organization to recognize and participate in,” Fennell said. “A lot of people have Alzheimer’s, and the society really supports the caregivers and the people themselves.”
The annual Walk for Alzheimer’s, which normally takes place in more than 20 locations around the province, was moved to a virtual format last year in light of COVID-19 restrictions.
This year, participants were encouraged to “walk their own way” throughout the month of May before joining together for an online celebration Sunday afternoon.
For Fennell and his family and friends, taking part in a small-scale walk was a way to give back to an organization that has helped his family’s journey in navigating the disease. Prior to COVID, he said Blanche would participate in various groups hosted by the Alzheimer’s Society, and he would attend a monthly caregivers’ group in Ashcroft for support and education.
“It’s a great thing,” he said. “They really answer all your questions and try to help as much as they can in dealing with the day-to-day and planning for the future.”
Blanche said it was wonderful to see so many people out, especially since it was rainy and cool when they started the walk.
“It’s absolutely wonderful. You always wonder how many you’re going to get. I’m always happy when there are lots,” she said. “I always say I’m very lucky I live in Clinton because it’s a small town. Everybody knows I have it and they look out for me. That’s very important. People in the bigger towns, sometimes they’re hardly going out at all. That’s sad, because they need that interaction, but they’re afraid. I understand that too, because there are times when I am.”
Fennell also hopes his impromptu walk will help ease the stigma for those who may be facing the disease, but are hesitant to reach out for support.
“As I’ve become more aware of the disease, I’ve seen a few people in my community who, I think, are afraid to reach out,” he said. “There’s really no stigma here — it’s just like any other disease.”
Blanche agreed. “That’s the thing for people with Alzheimer’s: don’t hide it. Put it out there. People are kind, they really are mostly kind.”
To learn more about the Alzheimer Society of BC and its programs, visit www.alzheimer.ca/bc.