Record crowd joins annual Little Current Alzheimer’s Walk

A record number of participants came out to support the Walk for Alzheimer’s in Little Current Sunday afternoon, the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Alzheimer’s Society. photos by Michael Erskine

LITTLE CURRENT—The Sunday afternoon drizzle did little to dampen spirits at the annual Walk for Alzheimer’s in Little Current, as a record crowd came out to show their support and to help raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society.

“This is one of the biggest walks we have ever had here in Little Current,” said outgoing Alzheimer’s Society Executive Director Lorraine Leblanc. “The walk helps us bring awareness and support for the Alzheimer’s Society.”

Ms. Leblanc said that such awareness has helped focus attention on the issues surrounding dementia and the impact those diseases have on both those afflicted and the families and other caregivers who support them.

“Thanks for coming out to this very important event,” said Alzheimer’s Society board member Rena Collins of Little Current. “This is my second term on the Sudbury/Manitoulin/ North Bay Districts Azhiemer’s Society board. The board is recognized for its strong voice in the North, its many programs and services provided in Northern communities. It is with this voice and the needs of the community that an office is now located in downtown Little Current.”

“We are optimistic that there will be some funding announcements coming from the federal and provincial governments in the near future,” she said. The focus is coming not a moment too soon. “Within 15 years there will be 1.4 million people living with some form of dementia and of those, 72 percent will be women. Alzheimer’s is just one kind (of dementia),” she said. “Dementia really effects more than just the person who is afflicted with it.”

The Alzheimer’s Society has been working hard on bringing the community onboard in supporting those afflicted. “It takes a community to provide the support that people need in order to be able to stay in their own homes,” she noted.

There are some interesting changes coming to the Walk for Alzheimer’s, noted Ms. Leblanc. “Rather than holding a walk in Espanola and another on Manitoulin, we have decided to combine them into one event and to alternate locations.” Next year the walk will take place in Espanola.

Another exciting change is the soon to be launched Blue Umbrella program. “We are really hoping to bring that program to Little Current later this year,” she said. “We will be starting it in Little Current and M’Chigeeng.”

“We are here to support the Alzheimer’s Society in this great event,” said Lee Turley, administrator of the Manitoulin Lodge in Gore Bay. “Alzheimer’s has a huge impact on society and we want to show our support for Manitoulin.”

Rena Collins, Alzheimer’s Society of Sudbury-Manitoulin-North Bay, board member, addresses the crowd.
Rena Collins, Alzheimer’s
Society of Sudbury-Manitoulin-North Bay, board member, addresses the crowd.

“Alzheimer’s has impacted my life personally,” said Julie Omnet, activities coordinator at Manitoulin Centennial Manor. “Of course I work with it every day in my job as well.”

“We have dedicated workers with a wealth of knowledge available to assist families, friends, neighbours and the communities of Manitoulin, Espanola and districts,” continued Ms. Collins.

“I am super excited to have so many people here today,” said Alison Sloss, one of the support workers who staff the Little Current office. “This is not only our biggest fundraiser, but also an opportunity to raise awareness as well.”

Ms. Collins noted that she was walking for those in her life who have been impacted by the disease. “I am walking for Dorothy Johnson, Shirley Thorkleson and Margaret Honess.” Ms. Honess, she noted, had been a friend and neighbour for many years.

“The funds raised from this walk remain on Manitoulin and area,” she said. “All donations are appreciated and you can call the society to find out other financial ways you can give support.”

Ms. Collins also thanked the many volunteers that have made the Walk for Alzheimer’s a success and reminded people to “Forget Me Not.” (The packets of seeds for the Forget Me Not flower is a symbol and fundraiser for the society.)