Young families, seniors, competitive distance runners, and Canberra couples helped form the diverse collection of 650 people that filled Lennox Gardens in Yarralumla on Sunday, Sept. 18.
Despite drizzle and chilly conditions, organisers and participants alike were thrilled with a record turnout for this year’s Alzheimer’s Australia ACT Memory Walk and Jog.
While the ages and individual motivations differed, what united participants of the 1km walk, 5km walk, 7km run, and spectators, was a link to dementia.
There are currently over 4,300 people living with dementia in the ACT, and the impact it has on the Canberra community was seen as many present sported homemade shirts and signs reading: “I’m running for *insert loved one’s name” or “In memory of *insert loved one’s name”.
“It was a lovely community atmosphere,” says Michelle Chaplin of Alzheimer’s Australia ACT, who was elated with the record turnout and 25-thousand dollars raised. “It was a huge injection – a huge surge,” she says. “The fundraising was immense this year.”
The money raised will assist Alzheimer's Australia ACT to provide services such as counselling, social support groups, and education to help family carers, people with dementia, and health professionals across Canberra. These vital services reduce feelings of isolation and empower people with dementia and their carers to continue living active lives.
Among the people present at Lennox Gardens, six staff and affiliates of The Tradies volunteered their time, marshalling the event, handing out show bags, balloons, and fruit.
“To be a part of the Alzheimer’s Memory Walk and Jog with The Tradies was very special,” says Kirstin Redding of The Tradies, who ran the 7km course. “It was great to be able to give back to the organisation that truly helped my family through a hard time.”
When Redding was in high school, her grandmother was diagnosed with dementia and as her condition worsened, Redding’s father became a full-time carer.
“Alzheimer’s ACT provided my family with ongoing support during a rough period to help with the daily challenges,” says Redding. “They were amazing and made a huge difference in our lives.”
While the Memory Walk and Jog provided a chance for people to exercise and exchange experiences, it doubled as an opportunity for Alzheimer’s Australia ACT to showcase some of the work beneficiaries of donations have produced. Artwork and woodwork made by people in Alzheimer’s Australia ACT arts programs was exhibited around the Gardens.
Chaplin says displays such as these are vital in educating Canberrans to support and accept those living with dementia.
“There are people living with dementia that are living with dignity and with purpose,” she says, adding that the programs available here are, “Giving people living with dementia now, or being diagnosed with it now, some really great opportunities to be able to continue to deeply connect with their community.”
This was the second time The Tradies has sponsored the Memory Walk and Jog.
“The best thing about the involvement with The Tradies is the additional support we provide; it doesn’t end at paying the sponsorship fees,” says Redding. “As a large organization, we have the resources to offer extra support where needed and we’re always willing to go above and beyond to assist.”