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Run like the wind for Alzheimer’s

Run like the wind for Alzheimer’s

“Thank you, Son,” is what I should have said. “What a great reason for some quality father/son time,” would have been better. Instead, I cried, “You did what?!”

That was Christmas morning 2014. My eldest son had signed us both up for the Ottawa Marathon. I was scheduled to run 26 miles, or 42 km, in less than 5 months.

I’m in my 50’s, I haven’t run regularly for over 20 years and I’m about 20 pounds heavier since my last marathon in 1995. I’d better take this seriously. Of course, training with my son motivates me; staying healthy to take on whatever other surprises he will send my way as he makes his way through life does as well; and using this day to contribute to dementia research is the crowning piece.

No cure or treatment exists. There are no ways to prevent the disease. Yet, I have learned I can do something about dementia:

  • I initially set a fundraising goal of $5,000 to support dementia research, which I will match. As I’m writing this, my goal has been met… and surpassed! Thank you very much for your support. Now, let’s see how much higher we can go! 
  • With March being Brain Health Awareness Month, my colleagues have reminded me that physical activity is one of the four lifestyle choices (including social and mental stimulation, and healthy diet) that are good for you. And they’re good for your brain too, encouraging the development of new cells and new connections within the brain.
  • And according to the Ontario Brain Institute, being physically active is associated with a 38% reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

As I pursue these goals of staying healthy and raising money for dementia research, I have added to my training schedule a long-run every Saturday. Even mother-nature is urging me forward: this harsh winter of ours has offered balmy single-digit temperatures for most of those Saturdays with double digit lows for the balance of the week. I’ve actually started to enjoy running again, especially when I get in the zone, and realize I’ve just run another 10 k without thinking about running at all.

Not such a bad Christmas gift after all, right?

I would go to the ends of the earth for my family, so 42 kilometres seems quite reasonable. On that Christmas morning, I had no idea that his gift could mean so much for so many people.

imageWriter.aspxChris Dennis is the interim CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Ontario. Though he has many years of experience in the health-care sector, these past few months have offered him a unique window into this disease and he is committed to raising as much money for Alzheimer’s care and research as possible.

Photoblog: The 4th Annual Cruise for a Cure

Photoblog: The 4th Annual Cruise for a Cure

On July 20th, the Alzheimer Society was invited to the 4th annual Cruise for a Cure in King City to set up a booth and receive funds raised from the event. Thanks to Tim and Brenda for putting on this great day. It may have been a little damp, but attendance and spirits were still high.IMG_2020 ipp ipp ipp ipp ipp ipp notification_image_1128606770 ipp



Redstone Lake Hockey Tournament raises $13,000

Redstone Lake Hockey Tournament raises $13,000

On January 24, Peter de Maio held the second annual Redstone Lake Pond Hockey Classic. The tournament had been turned into a fundraiser for the Alzheimer Society, through our Memory Makers website, after Peter’s Father, Dominic de Maio, passed away from Alzheimer’s disease the previous year.

The participants raised over $13,000 to help fund programs and services provided by the Alzheimer Society and research for a cure. Outstanding work everyone! Your generosity has made a difference.

Here are some photos from the event.

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Peter with his father Dom
Peter with his father Dom
On-ice showdown for Alzheimer’s disease

On-ice showdown for Alzheimer’s disease

On January 24, I will be hosting the fifth annual Red Stone Lake Pond Hockey invitational, an outdoor hockey tournament on Piccadilly Bay in Haliburton, Ontario. But this classic Canadian weekend of intense on-ice competition is about more than victory. Through Memory Makers for Alzheimer’s, we’ve turned the tournament into a fundraiser in honour of my father, Don de Maio, who passed away from Alzheimer’s disease last year.

Our house on Piccadilly Bay once belonged to my father, who always loved the outdoors and hiking in the area. Battling on ice in the great outdoors, I feel that the tournament is a great way to honour his memory. And it helps raise money to fund critical Alzheimer research and programs and services in our community.

In addition to a registration fee for the tournament, we provide additional means for participants to show their generosity through other activities and tournaments like crokinole, power, fooseball and a 50/50 draw.

Having experienced this journey for myself, I know that families affected by this disease need all of the help they can get. So please help us raise even more money this year.  I want to leave a legacy for my father that he can be proud of.

peter-de-maioPeter de Maio

Memory Makers for Alzheimer’s fundraiser


2014 Walk for Memories: meet walker Casey Peters

2014 Walk for Memories: meet walker Casey Peters

It all started with her cookies. My Nonna (grandma in Italian) made the best oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. They were a staple of my childhood. One day, when I was a teenager, the cookies tasted different.

It was such a small thing, but I noticed, because they had always tasted the same. When I started working part-time after school, I couldn’t bake with her as often. And the cookies changed even more.

She started forgetting small details things, not remembering parts of her day, and getting lost on her daily walk. For a few years, we didn’t know what was going on, until a doctor’s appointment revealed that Nonna had dementia.

Since then, it has been a difficult journey. My family had struggled at the beginning and sometimes we still do. But thankfully the Alzheimer Society was there for us, providing support and services to help us better understand what my Nonna was going through and what we could do to help.

Watching my Nonna struggle with this disease has been so eye-opening for me. I’ve realized that she is not the same person she once was. She lives in a retirement home, but needs more care than they can provide and is now on the long wait-list for long-term care.

When I see the terrible effects of this disease—she can become angry and agitated and acts in other ways so unlike her—I can’t even believe that this is the same person with whom I used to watch soap operas, bake, and go on trips. Fortunately, I still have those memories. But it saddens me when I am reminded that she doesn’t.

Last year, my mom, who has been one of the biggest pillars of support for my Nonna, participated in the Walk for Memories, the Alzheimer Society’s most important fundraiser. This year I plan to join her. The Alzheimer Society has helped my family understand this disease and provided us with resources to help improve my Nonna’s quality of life. For that, I am truly grateful. I want to make sure others can receive the same kind of help I was so fortunate to.

So I’m walking, not only to say thank you, but also for the people and their families who struggle with the disease today and for those who will tomorrow. Though it may be a long shot, maybe one day a little girl will be able to bake cookies with her grandma well into old age and have them taste the exact same as they always had.

casey-petersCasey Peters

Walk for Memories Walker, Team Home Hardware