Steve McNeil arrived in Kingston, Ont. this weekend for one leg of his cross-province skate to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society.
No stranger to cold weather, the 60-year-old postal worker from Toronto, Ont. strapped on his skates at 12:01 a.m. in weather that felt like -30C with the wind chill.
Despite the conditions, McNeil plans to skate at Springer Market Square until 7:26 p.m. — 19 hours and 26 minutes on the ice.
“I started doing this in my hometown of Toronto in 2012 just as a dedication to my mother, Eunice McNeil, who was born December 15, 1926,” says McNeil. “And at that point she was battling Alzhemier’s for the better part of 20 years, 11 years in a facility.”
The founder of ‘1926 Skate for Alzheimer’s’ is now celebrating the 10-year anniversary of his fundraising effort.
He is travelling to eight different cities in Ontario. Kingston is the second stop.
“I’ve had the pleasure to deal with Alzheimer’s Societies all across the country, and boy are you people in Kingston region ever lucky,” McNeil says. “Because Lesley Kimble and all of the rest of the staff here at Alzheimer’s Society in Kingston are off the charts. They’re rockstar guys, truly.”
All of the money McNeil is raising while in Kingston will stay within the community, helping with social recreation programs, counselling and support for both caregivers and those diagnosed with the disease.
“He’s been amazing, I have to tell you,” says Alzheimer Society of KFL&A Fundraising Coordinator Lesley Kimble. “This fellow has more energy in that one body than an entire hockey team.”
Alzheimer Society programming helps to keep people as active and engaged as possible, Kimble said, and is as essential for caregivers as it is for the diagnosed.
“It’s been a tough two years,” Kimble said. “Certainly been a tough two years for fundraising, as well, as it has been for all charities. So, we are so thrilled that Steve is here.”
While skating, McNeil was approached by community members offering warm soup, comforting words and even families with similar stories to that of Steve and his mother.
Read more: City of Kingston opens outdoor skating rinks
“Being that sounding board for people when they come by is really humbling and it puts so much energy and enthusiasm into what I do,” McNeil says. “It makes it easy to do what I do, truly.”
McNeil heads to Petawawa, Ont. to continue his skate on January 22.