Meet Wendy and Larry Smith. They have been volunteering for the Alzheimer Society’s Walk for Memories in Ottawa since its inception 19 years ago. Like the Walk, Wendy and Larry have experienced a number of changes during that period of time.
In the beginning, Wendy worked for an Ottawa-based Chartered Accounting firm, Collins Barrow Ottawa LLP, which had encouraged its employees to get involved in the community. The Alzheimer Society was one of a number of organizations that Collins Barrow supported. Employees and family members alike from the organisation became involved with this great cause. This was the start of the Smiths ongoing history of volunteering for the Alzheimer Society.
Little did they know that Alzheimer’s disease would touch close to home some years later!
In 1995, the Walk for Memories was based at the Carlingwood Mall. It was a great place to begin an activity that combined exercise with a good cause. Max Keeping, a local broadcast legend, was an infectious spirit who would lead the bagpiper round the Mall with the walkers following in their footsteps on a quest to raise money for this worthy cause. In recent years, the Walk for Memories was relocated to its present- day location of Carleton University’s Field House.
Throughout its history, the Walk provided an opportunity for the Smiths and others to gather together as a united front to support this worthy cause. However, it wasn’t long until the annual walk became more meaningful for the Smiths when it was revealed that Wendy’s aunt and Larry’s father were both diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. While volunteering as a registration pair, it gave them an opportunity to talk to individuals walking for their loved ones who had succumbed to this dreaded disease. Year after year, they would recognize the walkers, share stories, measure progress against their own loved ones as Alzheimer’s continued to mark progress on the unsuspecting prey. Collectively, they believed that by participating in the annual Walk they were making a difference in the fight against this debilitating disease.
Although their loved ones have passed on and the goal of a cure has not yet been realized, the Smiths remain committed to supporting the annual Walk for Memories. Each year, the end of January calls for a renewed commitment to continue the fight against this disease.
Although the faces of past walkers fade away, new faces pick up and the battle continues towards better treatment and – hopefully – a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
To find a Walk near you, sign up to Walk or support a Walker, visit the Walk website.
Walk for Memories Walkers