The rain came down in sheets but it failed to dampen the enthusiasm of several hundred supporters of the Alzheimer Society of B.C. on Sunday afternoon at Aldergrove Athletic Park.
Participants came prepared with their rain slickers and umbrellas at the first ever Walk for Memories held for the Abbotsford-Aldergrove-Langley region, and they exceeded all expectations in fundraising. The latest tally as of Monday afternoon was in excess of $40,000, as donations continue to come in. Organizers say it is possible that a total of $50,000 could be realized .
“We have 170 registered walkers here today and we’ve raised $30,000 — and still counting — for the Alzheimer Society,” said walk volunteer organizer Janet Ingram-Johnson on Sunday.
The Aldergrove Rotary field house was packed with participants, including a large contingent from the Langley Township Fire Department. Many of them were there in support of the “face” of the Aldergrove walk, Brenda Reddick, the wife of career fire fighter Rick Reddick.
Brenda, 51, is suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer disease, and Rick has been appreciative of the help offered by the Alzheimer Society so that the family is able to deal with the unique situations and problems caused by the disease. Brenda’s father passed away at a young age, suffering from the disease, and her 55-year-old brother has also been diagnosed with it.
Brenda is lucid and outspoken about the need to help each other, and for this reason she volunteered to act as the “honoree” for the Aldergrove Walk for Memories.
“It’s best to talk about dementia. We can’t pretend it’s not happening. We can’t walk away from the disease,” said Brenda.
“There is no blueprint for Alzheimer’s, but there are treatments and there is a lot of support.
“And help raise funding for research so the scientists can do their job and that maybe one day we won’t have this cloud hanging over us.”
Assistant chief Bruce Ferguson, another career fire fighter, said he’s known the Reddick family for 30 years and that it’s “heartbreaking” to see old friends having to deal with Alzheimer’s in their families.
For this reason a large contingent of fire fighters turned up in support of the Reddicks, along with many people from all walks of life.
“It’s estimated that one in three of British Columbians know someone close that is dealing with dementia,” said Alzheimer’s Society spokesperson Susan Rae.
“We have hundreds of volunteers and we welcome others to get involved, to participate as volunteers. Just go to our website (http://www.alzheimerbc.org/) and you can see what we offer and how you can help.”
Rae also praised this community for its generosity to, and support of, the Alzheimer Society.
“Since this was Aldergrove’s first walk we thought maybe a goal of $5,000 was reasonable. The total of more than $30,000 raised here is just amazing.
“We have 24 walks across B.C. and our fundraising goal is $650,000 total,” said Rae.