Smithers Walks for Memories

January is Alzheimer's Awareness month. The Investors Group organized an Alzheimer's Walk for Memories.

Team Gandma prepares to Walk for Memories in honour of Anne Eason during the Alzheimer's Walk for Memories.

Team Gandma prepares to Walk for Memories in honour of Anne Eason during the Alzheimer's Walk for Memories.

To celebrate Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, the Investors Group organized the first annual Walk for Memories in Smithers last week to recognize and support not only those with the afflicting disease, but also those who care for them.

The Canadian Study of Health and Aging estimated that by 2011 one in 10 Canadians aged 65 and older will have some form dementia and Alzheimer’s will make up two-thirds of those patients.

“Alzheimer’s is a growing disease,” said Walk for Memories Coordinator, Louise Grneier.  “It’s going to be something thats going to affect a lot of people and we’re just trying to make sure we bring awareness and help within the community to try and help people prepare for it in many different ways.”

For Terin Cutler Alzheimer’s has a tight connection within her linage. For Culter and her extended family the Walk for Memories is their way to help better understand the damaging disease, and celebrate the life of a patriarch.

“It’s for my gandma, she passed away in November. She had Alzheimer’s,” said Cutler.

“She had Alzheimer’s for many years and since she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, in the late 90s, she was part of a study at UBC, tracking her progression. Her final wishes were to donate her brain to the Alzheimer’s society, so we filled her wishes when she passed away. She did her part for research, so this is our contribution for her.”

Smithers is now one of 25 communities across the province to celebrate the Walk for Memories and joins more than 5000 people who take part in the event every year.

Being the first time for Smithers, organizers were overwhelmed with the amount of support that came out and hope that next year will be even bigger.

Teams gathered to collect donations, and pledges for the walk that had turned into a friendly cross-town challenge. With four teams registering, the Bulkley Lodge, an independent family team, and Bulkley Valley Insurance, who then challenged the BV Credit Union to put in a team so “we we’re quite overwhelmed in what we received in donations being that it was our first walk,” said Shauna Peterson, co-chair for the Alzheimer’s Walk for Memories. So far this year there has been more than $1000 raised in Smithers.

Over $176 million has been contributed to Alzheimer’s research and will an aging population, experts believe that the number of diagnose will double in the next 20 years which means more support will be needed and Smithers will continue to do it’s part as there aren’t many who haven’t bee affected by Alzheimer’s.

“My grandma was so adamant about doing whatever she could to stop the disease,” Cutler said. “For sure [I’ll be back], since not only my gandma has Alzheimer’s, but many of her siblings. Many descendants from my grandams family line have all been affected by Alzheimer’s.”