Feature Story                                                                                        Friday, February 17, 2012


The Walk of Love

Chilliwack raises over $24,000 for the Alzheimer's Society

Staff/Voice photos


Piper Evans Palmer, Dorothy Kostrzewa and her husband Richard who suffers from the disease, along with a Mountie prepare to get the walk started.


n January 29, approximately 300 people registered and took part in the annual Fraser Valley Investors Group Walk for Memories at the Landing Sports Centre in Chilliwack. The Walks which happen throughout the province, are the main fundraisers for the Alzheimer's Society of BC and this year, collectively, over $690,000 was raised. Last year that figure was around $650,000.


Volunteer Co-Chair and organizer Gail Johnson, told the Voice in an e-mail earlier this week, that the society had a good turnout both in the numbers of walkers and helpers for the 2012 Walk adding that locally, over $24,000 was raised this year, however that total will likely rise to over $26,000.

"We also had 53 volunteers show up so we're pretty happy about that," said Johnson. "Chilliwackians are very generous & donations tend to trickle in for quite some time after the Walk," said Johnson.

The Walk helps to increase awareness about Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. The money each community raises, stays there for support to people facing dementia with the services they need in order to maintain a high quality of life. Locally, in Chilliwack, the society offers information sessions for families and caregivers, and for those in the early stages of the disease.

The walkers came because they believe that with their help, a cure will be found for a disease that affects more than 70,000 fellow British Columbians, 10,000 of those under 65.

Each year the Society has a different honouree and this year Richard Kostrzewa, husband of long-time Chilliwack City Councillor, Dorothy Kostrzewa, was chosen. He was a school bus driver for many years and stayed active swimming, winning several medals at the Seniors Games.

Jillian Armit who is the Support and Education Coordinator for the Fraser Valley addressed those at the walk over the P.A.

"Dorothy is an amazing woman and a leader of women and we're just so happy that we can honour her husband today. Thank you for coming today, making a difference together we can find a cure," she said.

Armit's 9-year-old grandson, Gavin Rutter, from Abbotsford, raised an astounding $5,000 for the Society.

He wants a world without Alzheimer's by the time he reaches adulthood.

Gavin Rutter, 9, raised $5000 this year.

According to his website, www.helpmakememories.com, the little guy with the big heart writes, "My great grandma Frances canít remember anymore. She still knows she loves me, but someday sheíll forget. Iím going to walk in the Investorís Group Walk for Memories in honour of my Great Grandma Frances and so that when Iím a Grandpa one day I wonít have to worry that Iíll forget too!"

Most of the money he raised was done online after handing out cards directing people to his website. He even educated his grade 4 class about the disease.

"It was easy", he told the Voice at the walk when asked how hard it was to raise the money. "I wasn't the one raising it, it was the people who donated the money to me, so it was really easy."

There are great door prizes, live entertainment and a silent auction. Tim Horton's provided the fuel, Jeff "Elvis" Bodner, Daryl "Johnny Cash" Weyman and Fred Schuh the music and Ana Macedo emceed the event. The silent auction was loaded with items donated from local businesses.

Chilliwack mayor Sharon Gaetz, a regular at the Walk for Memories, also has quite a voice and started the walk off by singing the national anthem.

"I want to thank those people who worked really hard to make this happen and those who put together the silent auction," said Gaetz afterward.

St. Johns Ambulance volunteers, who are at many events, were also in attendance.

For information about services available in Chilliwack, contact Armit at 604-859-3889 or via e-mail here.  Learn more about the Alzheimer's Society of BC here.

See more photos of the Walk for Memories below.

© Copyright (c) 2012 The Valley Voice


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