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Residents encouraged to Walk for Alzheimer’s to raise money for local programming

The Alzheimer Society of Durham Region’s annual Walk for Alzheimer’s is celebrating its 18th birthday on May 27.

The Walk for Alzheimer’s raises money and awareness for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. It also aims to help reduce the stigma surrounding the diseases.

“Everything we do is geared towards supporting both the individual, and their care partners and families, in order for a person to live their best life,” says Alzheimer Society of Durham Region’s executive director Denyse Newton.

The event will be taking place inside the Oshawa Centre, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. In previous years, the Alzheimer Society of Durham Region used the track located in Durham College’s Wellness Centre but due to the growing number of participants, the event was moved. The walk was held outside in 2017, but due to bad weather risks and accessibility, it wasn’t a great choice according to Newton.

“We had to find another interior space that was guaranteed dry and accessible and [the Oshawa Centre is] a good fit,” says Newton.

More than 140 people have registered in 15 teams as of May 3. According to Newton, the event has been growing larger every year. When she first started, there were less than 150 participants. Last year more than 350 people walked in support of Alzheimer’s.

Members of the community who wish to participate can register online at alzheimer.ca/en/durham/Get-involved, at the Alzheimer Society of Durham Region’s office, located at 1600 Champlain Ave. unit 202 in Whitby, or simply show up at the event.

“We’d love to see more teams get involved… any group of friends to come out and support the event,” Newton says.

Money raised for the event supports the various programs and services the Alzheimer Society of Durham Region offers. The organization helps support people living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, and their caretakers. In 2017, more than $92,500 was raised through pledges, donations and raffles. This year’s incentive prizes include t-shirts and gift cards, as well as raffle prizes.

“Our mission is to improve the life of people living with dementia and their care partners,” says Newton.

According to Newton, Durham Region has one of the highest rates of dementia in the province. About 10,000 people in Durham Region are living with some form of dementia. She says these numbers are expected to double over the next 15 years.

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is a 10 to 20-year journey. However, Newton believes a diagnosis is not the end of the world, and that there is support for people living with the disease and the Walk for Alzheimer’s helps make this support possible.

“Having a diagnosis of dementia does not mean life ends, there’s much life to still live and we provide the support that allows them, their caregivers, to provide that for them,” says Newton.

If members of the community cannot attend the event, Michelle Taylor, fund development coordinator of Alzheimer Society of Durham, says they can still support the cause.

“If people can’t make it to the event, for whatever reason, we’re still very grateful for any support that they can do,” says Taylor, adding people can drop of pledge forms and money at the Whitby office or organize their own events to raise money for the cause.