It was Wally’s World at Greater Vernon Athletic Park.
Wally Garrod of Vernon, retired sawmill filer, 78, and his family of wife, Marilyn, and sons Wade and Chad, were the honoured guests for the return of the North Okanagan IG Wealth Management Walk For Alzheimer’s, which returned to the region Sunday, May 29, at Greater Vernon Athletic Park at Okanagan College.
It was the first time the event had been held since 2019 because of COVID.
Wally was diagnosed with frontotempural, an umbrella term for a group of rare disorders that primarily affect the areas of the brain associated with personality and behaviour.
While Marilyn would later share a poignant tale of life with Wally after the diagnosis, and the help she and her family received from the Alzheimer’s Society of B.C., with the crowd of close to 150 people, you couldn’t wipe the smile off her husband’s face.
Garrod chatted and shook hands with members of Vernon’s Men’s Shed group, which Garrod is a part of. They came out to support their brother.
“This day feels great,” said Garrod, who was born in Salmon Arm and his lived entire life in the North Okanagan-Shuswap save for a few years down under in Australia and New Zealand, training Aborigines how to work in the sawmill as Garrod said he worked in every mill in the Kiwi country.
“All the guys here supporting me, Lyn (Marilyn) and having my boys here…it’s great.”
The Garrods took the event’s official first step and were determined to finish a pair of laps around the oval track at GVAP.
The IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s is the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s flagship fundraising event in support of people affected by dementia.This year, the society returned to in-person walks in 21 locations across B.C., including Vernon.
Local event chairperson Patrick Vance – whose beloved grandmother was a victim of the disease – said the North Okanagan event rebranded to include nine North Okanagan-Shuswap municipalities: Vernon, Coldstream, Armstrong, Spallumcheen, Enderby, Lumby, Lake Country, Salmon Arm and Sicamous.
Terry Rysz, Mayor of Sicamous, and Lake Country councillor Cara Reed joined local politicians Teresa Durning and Kelly Fehn from Vernon, and Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick in participating.
The national event last May saw about 10,000 Canadians show their support for people affected by dementia, and raised more than $800,000 in B.C.
Locally, said Vance, more than $10,000 was raised, and the 2022 goal is to top that amount.
More than 70,000 people suffer or are afflicted with dementia in B.C., and Vance said that number is expected to double in the next 12 years.
Donations generate 70 per cent of the funds used to run programs by the Alzheimer Society of B.C.