Alzheimer walk goes virtual

Ken Kellar

It’s a familiar refrain by now, but another community event has taken to the internet in order to keep itself alive in the time of COVID-19.
The IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s put on in conjunction with the Alzheimer Society of Canada is set to run this Sunday, May 31, and as a result of continuing restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic is taking the form of a virtual walk this year.
Alzheimer Society of Kenora/Rainy River Districts client services co-ordinator Mary O’Connor explained that even though things had to change this year, there’s only so much that could be done.
“I’m so disappointed, but it is what it is, and we have to do what we have to do,” O’Connor said.
“We’ve given people until Friday, May 29 to register. If people are pledging they can do that and of course, the idea is a virtual walk. If they want to walk that day, [the Alzheimer Society of Canada] set the day as May 31 at 11 a.m. At that time I intend to be at the sorting gap, I’m going to take some pictures and I want to send them in for our website.”
With the move to a virtual walk, O’Connor explained that things are working differently than normal years, especially for those who are used to taking part in the walk in Fort Frances.
“The one here has evolved into a picnic and a really fun gathering,” she said.
“Ours here in Fort is different than throughout the district because of that. If anybody wants a pledge form they can just contact me, even if they just collect money and call me up and meet me and say, ‘here’s the envelope,’ it’s perfectly fine. I don’t anticipate we’ll get as much money, but we’re going to have fun. Those of us that are out walking are going to have fun.”
The Alzheimer Society of Canada page for the walk encourages people to get out and be active in order to raise awareness and show support for those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Activities that are encouraged in addition to walking are things like dancing, jumping rope, doing yoga or climbing stairs. The idea is to be active and help raise money, and even though the event is fully virtual, there are still perks to taking part.
“We do have prizes,” O’Connor said.
“Instead of going around and getting community prizes this year, I got Investor’s Group to donate all of our prizes. So whether people donate online or they call or have pledge forms, every person who is part of the pledge, even if you donate a dollar, you get in on the draws. All the draws will be done in Kenora, but all the prizes are here, the prizes I collected here will be distributed here only. We’ve got Boston Pizza cards and Tim’s cards that are more than $2.”
Like the walk in other years, and other fundraising events put on by the Alzheimer Society of Kenora/Rainy River Districts, the money raised goes directly to supporting programming in the area, including materials for classes and workshops, activation kits, and the society’s Music Project. O’Connor noted that just because much of the world has been forced to shut down due to COVID-19, the people that are helped by the Alzheimer Society don’t often have that luxury.
“The first while it was really hard on everybody but me, because I have a home office. My day carried on but what stopped was going out and doing presentations, my face-to-face support groups, my learning series,” she said.
“With everything shut down the supports that a lot of people had are not there and dementia is still out there.”
Those interested in taking part in the Walk for Alzheimer can go to the Alzheimer Society of Kenora/Rainy River District website to sign up, or can call 1-800-682-0245 for a pledge form.