Members of the Brock community are participating in the annual Walk for Alzheimer’s taking place at Brock University on Jan. 27. The walk poses an opportunity for community support to strengthen as individuals rally to help prevent what can be a devastating disease.
Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease and chronic condition that impacts memory and other cognitive functions, gradually worsening over time. There is currently no known cure. As of 2010, over 35 million people worldwide were suffering from dementia, an umbrella term for memory loss and related damage to cognitive abilities, which Alzheimer’s can cause.
Peter Scott, a member of Unifor, invites the Brock community to either join his fundraising team, TEAM Bob White, or simply come out and walk. The organization of Unifor and its members have been participating supporters of the walk for years. Scott has noted the abundance of touching stories told by participants in his experiences with the walk.
“There are a lot of really good human stories here,” Scott said. “If you went to the event you would see a lot of these people and you could write a book about what is going on.”
Nothing reaches deeper than the personalization of a cause, like those Scott experienced, inspiring him to create TEAM Bob White. Scott attended the walk each year to take photos for Unifor’s website but his fire truly sparked when he came into contact with one particular family.
“I took a picture of a family who were all wearing the same t-shirt, about 10 of them,” Scott said. “They were walking for their grandfather, so I thought, ‘That is really great; maybe we should do that one year.’ A month later, Bob White, who was President and a highly respected labour activist, passed away and he had Alzheimer’s, so that is where the concept of ‘TEAM Bob White’ came from.”
White founded the Canadian Auto Workers union and oversaw the union diverging from its American counterpart, continuing his legacy of labour activism even after the union became Unifor.
At the end of their first year fundraising, the team received a certificate in honour of how much they raised Bob White’s name.
“The main story is about Alzheimer’s and the impact it has on the community,” said Scott. “What I found really interesting was the more people we talked to, it [began] this dialogue that we never had before. I mean, I worked with people for 20 to 30 years and when we started doing this just about everybody I know [came] forward and [said] ‘my aunt, my uncle, my brother or my sister.’ Just about everybody is impacted by Alzheimer’s.”
Fundraisers for the walk range from organizations to students, politicians and more. There are many incentives being offered for top individual fundraisers and top group fundraisers. Some of the prizes include $1,000 travel vouchers for VIA Rail Canada, the use of a Community Suite at a Niagara IceDogs game at the Meridian Centre, dinner vouchers at Kelseys, Frescos, Lina Linguinis and more. The lowest prize begins at a t-shirt and is received when fundraisers reach $100. However, the kind-hearted intent sometimes goes further than this finish line. Scott noted a story about his collegue Justin Gniposky, for example, who not only raised over $2200 last year, the most raised by an individual, but also gave his prize, a $1,000 gift certificate for Canadian Pacific Railway, to his grandmother for her to enjoy.
Instead of rounding up individuals willing to fundraise over $1,000, another tactic is to get as many people participating in the event as possible. Even if you are only reaching that small goal of $100, there is strength in numbers and each participant’s contribution adds up. All of the money raised will be donated to the Alzheimer Society of Niagara Region, supporting community members affected by the disease.
If interested, students do not need to fundraise; they can simply attend the walk and still make a difference with their support. The passing of Bob White and the impact it brought upon the Canadian labour movement has been inspirational for many participants in this event. For others, as Scott explained, more people than we realize have been impacted by Alzheimer’s.
On the planned date there will be a gathering of community members, therapy dogs and vendors. Attendees can report to Ian Beddis Gym in the Walker Complex at 9:30 a.m for registration. The walk will begin at 11:00 a.m and after the one kilometre mark, break stations will offer brain-healthy food and plenty of information.
If interested in fundraising (as an individual or a group), access the sign up and pledge forms online. /www.alzgiving.ca/site/TR?fr_id=2191&pg=entry If interested in fundraising with TEAM Bob White, use the “Join a Team” option on this website.