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A memorable day for Alzheimer cause

Aldergrove Secondary teacher George Wilander receives the finishing touches from hairdressing students Jay Tardif (left) and Franki Polkinghorne. - Janet Ingram-Johnson photo
Aldergrove Secondary teacher George Wilander receives the finishing touches from hairdressing students Jay Tardif (left) and Franki Polkinghorne.
— image credit: Janet Ingram-Johnson photo

George Wilander might think twice next time he’s challenged to a bet by Peggy Wickenden.

The two Aldergrove Community Secondary School teachers recently agreed to a wager: If Wickenden — who runs the innovative hairdressing program at ACSS — could raise $500 for the first-ever local Alzheimer Walk for Memories, Wilander would let her students paint leopard spots in his hair.

Last Friday, with the fundraising at $517 and counting, the good-natured Advance classes instructor turned himself in to the school salon and spent a couple of hours being transformed.

Walks for Memories to raise funds for Alzheimer research, education and and support take place all around the province each year on the last Sunday in January, Alzheimer Awareness Month. Walks have been held in Chilliwack and in White Rock, but the 2012 Langley-Aldergrove-Abbotsford walk is a first for this area.

It’s set for this Sunday, Jan. 29 at the Aldergrove Athletic Park and Rotary Fieldhouse and its major sponsor is Investors Group, supported by Black Press.

In B.C., more than 70,000 individuals and families are victims of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia. With baby-boomers now entering their senior years, this toll is only likely to rise.

Today’s younger generations know that, if dementia is to be preventable in their lifetimes, they need to raise awareness among their peers now. This is highly evident at ACSS (principal, Gord Stewart), where students and staff really know how to put the "Community" in Community Secondary School.

ACSS student council vice-president Thanh Ma and her team have made colourful, artistic banners and signs for the walk and — joined by a group of Leo Club volunteers from Mountain Secondary in Langley — will be helping visitors negotiate the somewhat roundabout route to the park on Walk Day.

ACSS international student Amery Ai, cleverly disguised as the ACSS Totems’ Tommy mascot, will be bringing some fellow international students to volunteer alongside them.

And ACSS alumni Eric Wickenden (son of Peggy) will be DJ for the event.

Registration for the walk is set to start — rain or shine — at noon, with an official opening by Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese at around 1 p.m. Langley City Deputy Mayor Jack Arnold will attend, as will Fort Langley-Aldergrove MLA Rich Coleman and Langley MLA Mary Polak. Township Coun. Bob Long, who recently lost his mother to Alzheimer’s disease, will MC the event.

Madam Butterfly will be face-painting and tying balloons and there’ll be a shiny fire truck and crew on site, to entertain and educate the kids. And, thanks to generous support from some area businesses, there’ll be some hot drinks and some light snacks.

But most of all, the Langley-Aldergrove-Abbotsford Walk for Memories is a tribute to one person: Brenda Reddick, who, although she’s still only 51, is living with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Brenda’s father died young from Alzheimer’s and Brenda’s brother, 55, has also been diagnosed with the disease.

Brenda has bravely agreed to be the “poster face” of the walk so that people may see first-hand that dementia isn’t always an “old person’s fate”.

Funds are desperately needed, so that researchers may unlock the key to dementia prevention and so that the Alzheimer Society of B.C. can provide support to victims and increase public education.

To sign up for the walk, go to www.walkformemories.com and click on “Langley, Aldergrove and Abbotsford” under “2012 walk locations”. If the Internet isn’t an option, phone 604-533-5277.

Let’s see a great turnout on Sunday at the park.

-special to The Star by Janet Ingram-Johnson

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