More than 1,500 people turned out to the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre on Thanksgiving Sunday to raise money and awareness for people affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
The 29th iteration of the IG Wealth Management Alzheimer Walk & Run — with distances up to 10 kilometres — aimed to show locals impacted by the brain disease that they’re not alone.
“Primarily, the funds raised today go towards programs for caregivers including our support team — we have a team of social workers who work one-on-one or with families around some of the issues they’re facing with dementia — and also towards education. So we do a lot of public education, which is really important, and also family-based education,” said Barb Ferguson, executive director of the Alzheimer Society of Calgary.
According to the society, each year, thousands reach out for emotional support, care and education.
“Often the first question after somebody’s been diagnosed is: ‘What’s next?’ And our team is really there to help people answer some of those questions and really be with them throughout the period of time that they’ll be dealing with issues as they come up as the disease progresses,” Ferguson said.
The run’s high attendance number speaks to the importance of the issue, Ferguson said.
“There’s currently 17,000 people with dementia in Calgary,” she said. “We know 10 to 12 others are also impacted with that one person. So that’s a lot of people who are impacted. They want to know that there’s a whole community behind them and I think events like this really showcase that.”
Ferguson explained that those numbers are set to double over the next decade.
“As dementia grows, we’re going to see a doubling of the number of people impacted by 2031, which is almost hard to imagine how many people in our community will be impacted,” she said. “So we do need to be here for each other and we need to create a Calgary that’s really dementia inclusive.”
Sunday’s run raised more than $260,000, according to the Alzheimer Society of Calgary.