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  Feature Story                                                                                            Saturday, February 9, 2013


Walking Tall

Chilliwack Alzheimer's Walk for Memories brings in over $22K for local chapter services

Staff/Voice photos



RCMP Cst. Kevin Young watches as honouree Vi Hoyt and her husband Ted cut the blue ribbon to get the 2013 fundraiser underway.


he Investor's Group Walk for Memories is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Alzheimer's Society, and if you missed the walk at the Landing Sports Centre on January 27, then you missed one of the city's best-loved events, and one of the reasons that makes Chilliwack a great place to live and give.


If you didn't go, then you missed out on some great local entertainment acts like DJ Peter 'All Requests' Graves and Daryl Weyman's 'Tribute to Johnny Cash, as you sat sipping on your free Tim Hortons coffee, hot chocolate and timbits.


You also didn't get to hear one of North America's only singing mayors belt out the national anthem, or have a chance to hobnob with local politicians like Chilliwack candidate Patti MacAhonic, MLA Gwen O'Mahony and city councillor Ken Popove. But, the most important thing that you missed there was the camaraderie.


This is what community is all about. Fine people who happily jump out of bed on a cold and rainy Sunday, and bring their own brand of sunshine, while trying to help out the local chapter.


Chilliwack Mountie Cst. Kevin Young and piper Evans Palmer escorted Vi Hoyt, the 2013 Fraser Valley Walk honouree, and a couple hundred strollers on the first lap.


There were several tables loaded loaded with gift baskets as door prizes for walkers.


Chilliwack resident and long-time volunteer Gail Johnson confirmed attendance was down slightly this year, but supporters of the Fraser Valley Walk still managed to raise a whopping $22,000 Alzheimer's Society. She anticipates next year will be one of the best Walks yet.


"I'm sure Walk 2014 will be an even bigger success and we look forward to seeing everybody there," she in an e-mail to the Voice last week.


Jillian Armit, Support & Education Coordinator, told the Voice at the Walk, that she can't thank the 40-50 volunteers enough for the work they do.


"The volunteers have been absolutely amazing. They've been just so organized and on top of things, they really know what they're doing."


Armit encourages groups taking part in the Walk to wear team identification.


"It just brings some community spirit into the whole thing," she said.


Something different this year she says is online registration, which helps them get a handle on the numbers of people involved and the donations coming in.


"It is nice that people are really getting more technical and they're signing up way ahead of time online and getting everybody to sponsor them," explained Armitt.


Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz sings the national anthem while Cst. Kevin Young salutes.


Before becoming an MLA, Gwen O'Mahony was a caregiver for people with disabilities in a group home and says she is well aware of the impact Alzheimer's has on people in care facilities.


"We felt really at odds when a diagnosis first came in for the individual that we cared for," O'Mahony said on-stage. "We didn't know what to do. We felt alone. And so, it is with great pride that I step up today to take part in this walk."


O'Mahony shared a quote; "Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at it's destination full of hope."


"Today, we're not going to be leaping fences, we're going to be walking for a cure for Alzheimer's and raising money and on behalf of the British Columbia government as your legislator, I'd like to warmly welcome you and thank you for participating."


Investor's Group financial consultant Al Limbert, who is also on the Walk organizing committee, told participants that he's seen the fundraiser grow over the past 7 years they've been sponsoring the fundraiser, to the point where they may surpass the $4M mark this year.


"The number of communities supporting this walk has grown, I believe this year there are 23 communities that are going to be walking today indoors and outdoors depending on where they're situated," he said adding "the amount of people involved in the Walk has grown as well to the point where the amount of dollars raised has grown as well."


"I've been involved with the organizing committee here over the past few years on and off, and what I find is really encouraging is, so many familiar faces that are here supporting and working to help make this event a fabulous day for everybody involved," concluded Limbert.


Vi Hoyt's husband, Ted, told the crowd that his wife has been doing well.


"Alzheimer's is something that doesn't get cured, so please, let everybody know what it's all about, and this is a good example, as are several other people who are here today," he said.


"She's still a wonderful person and I want to thank all the volunteers that have looked after us so long and our family."


Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz gave the couple a lovely bouquet of flowers.


"I want to present these flowers to you and tell you what an inspiration you are to everyone who has Alzheimer's, and how inspirational Ted is, he's absolutely fabulous," she said. "We are wishing and hoping for the day when the cure will be here."


Alzheimer's in BC

The hard numbers are that more than 70,000 people in B.C. are living with Alzheimerís disease and other dementias, and 10,000 of them are under the age of 65. But the current figures just show the tip of the iceberg. According to the Alzheimer's Society, the number of people with dementia is expected to double over the next three decades.


About Vi Hoyt

The Fraser Valley is walking for Vi Hoyt, a strong woman who didnít mind being different. She is quick to smile and giggle, and is very happy and friendly.


Born in Kirkland Lake, Ontario on July 30, 1935, she had four older siblings. Like all youngest born, she was teased by her older siblings. As the story goes, she once threw a cat at her sister, Bernice, in retaliation. At family reunions, they would dance and sing for hours.


Shortly after marrying, she had three children of her own: Christine, Anthony and Jennifer. In 1966, she became a single parent at a time when divorce was frowned upon.


She earned a black belt in Karate and was an instructor as well. She directed and acted in plays with the Pembroke Little Theatre. She worked as a loans officer, payroll clerk, and co-owned a temp service. At 52, she went back to school and became a sexual abuse counselor.


She remarried in June 1995 and gained another daughter through marriage, Charlene. Vi is also a grandparent to five children. Letís get walking Fraser Valley - for Vi Hoyt and the more than 70,000 individuals and families in B.C. who are living with dementia.


Walk Sponsors

Investorís Group ‑ Summerland Health Auxiliary - Safeway ‑ Cowell Auto Group ‑ Salmonís Rental Ltd. ‑ Global TV ‑ Vancouver Sun ‑ Immediate Images - CKNW ‑ Chilliwack Progress - 89.5 The Hawk - Star FM


Special Thanks to the Donors

Tim Hortons ‑ Chilliwack School District 33 secondary student volunteers ‑ the volunteer steering committee ‑ the event day volunteers - Royal Bank volunteers, and to participants who help make this such a successful event.


Where the Money Goes

Funds raised through the Investors Group Walk for Memories ensure people in your community whose lives have been impacted by Alzheimer's disease and other dementias connect to a provincial network of information, services and support. Funds are also directed toward research for the causes and cure.


For information about local chapter programs e-mail Jillian Armitt here. For general information visit www.walkformemories.com or call 604-702-4603 Toll Free 1-800-667-3742


Learn more about the local chapter here.


© Copyright (c) 2013 The Valley Voic