Lorna and Herb Thorburn participate in the 2018 Investors Group Walk for Alzheimer’s which took place at Greater Vernon Athletics Park at Okanagan College on Sunday. (Tobias Frederiksen/Morning Star)

Walk for Alzheimer’s makes memories matter

Vernon event full of smiles, fundraiser just shy of $10,000 goal

The sun and smiles were shining brightly as a crowd of people made memories matter Sunday.

The Investors Group Walk for Alzheimer’s saw all ages turn out for the annual fundraiser, which took place at the Greater Vernon Athletics Park at Okanagan College.

“When you walk, you make memories matter. You honour people who have passed and acknowledge the work that must be done to ensure help and hope for the people living with the disease today,” the Alzheimer Society of B.C. states.

Along with making memories, the event raised $9,104 — just shy of its $10,000 goal.

The top fundraiser of Sunday’s event was Lynda Dedemus, a caregiver support champion who raised $2,240.

The top fundraising team was French Connection raising $3,444. Team captain Gord French and his wife Colleen are the Vernon honourees of the event.

See Vernon walk for Alzheimer’s honours local couple

“In a lot of the dementia support groups, we hear about friends drifting away because of the stigma, but ours are very supportive,” said Gord, caregiver to his wife Colleen, who lives with dementia.

Since Colleen’s diagnosis a year and a half ago, the life-long Vernon couple’s close network in the city has continued to reach out and make coffee dates as they always have. While their support network has remained, the Frenches’ routines have changed. Colleen, a devoted volunteer and talented artist, has shifted her focus away from her work for the Red Cross and hospital auxiliary, as well as her painting, quilting and drawing projects. She prefers spending more quiet time at home immersed in a good book. After a lifetime together, Gord and Colleen find themselves reestablishing domestic roles.

“She does not want to cook anymore and it’s working out,” Gord says. “It’s working out because I’m learning to do things that I’ve never done before.”

The Frenches’ greatest moments have long been born from firsts they experienced together, whether raising their two daughters and later becoming grandparents, running a British sports car repair shop or travelling to new destinations on motorhome and sailing adventures. They now take part in Minds in Motion, the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s fitness and social program. Gord also attends a caregiver support group.

“What I’ve taught myself is patience,” he says. “Don’t assume that the person living with dementia realizes something they’re doing wrong. Just ignore that stuff and let it ride. Count to 10 and let it ride.”

You can still donate online at alzgiving.ca


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Danica Block (from left), Jake Block with Hannah Meyer hitching a shoulder ride, Diane Block, Brittany Meyer and Nora Meyer share a laugh and have some fun at the 2018 Investors Group Walk for Alzheimer’s which took place at Greater Vernon Athletics Park at Okanagan College on Sunday. (Tobias Frederiksen/Morning Star)

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