Barriere resident Liz Gilbertson says she is no stranger to Alzheimer’s disease.
She tells that both her maternal grandmother and her mother had the disease.
Her mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2000, but she notes that family members had noticed that something was wrong with her mother two years previous.
Liz says she was living in Kamloops at the time, and she wanted to find out more about the disease in order to help her mother. This path of learning eventually brought her to being involved with her first “Walk”, the Investor Group Walk For Memories in Kamloops in January of 2007.
Later that same year, in August, Liz and her husband Jim made the move to Barriere.
“Right away I decided to organize a ‘Walk’ for Barriere,” tells Liz, who seems to be a natural at organizing events and getting people involved in worthwhile projects. She reached out to friends and in January of 2008, Liz hosted the first Barriere Investor’s Group Walk For Memories. Just two walkers showed up and a total of $60 was raised.
Since then Liz has organized seven more ‘Walks’, and she is now in the process of organizing the 9th annual ‘Walk’ in Barriere.
She has gone from a small group of walkers to over 100 in 2015, from raising $60 the first year to over $11,000 in 2015.
In totalling the funds raised from each ‘Walk’ that Liz has organized the amount comes out to over $38,000.
Liz says she encouraged Margaret Houben to come on board as co-chair of the Barriere ‘Walk’ in 2015, and Margaret will again be participating this year, which provides Liz with some back up that is much appreciated.
While her mom passed away in 2011, Liz still has to deal with the threat of Alzheimer’s, as she explains that her husband Jim has been showing signs of dementia, “although he has yet to be officially diagnosed with the disease”.
Alzheimer’s has been a factor in Liz’s family for a long time, but it doesn’t keep this energetic and positive thinking woman from moving forward to help find a cure for the disease. Liz notes that it is fundraising events such as the annual ‘Walk’ that really make a difference when thousands of Canadians join together who want to see a world without Alzheimer’s disease.
Walk for Alzheimer’s is Canada’s biggest fundraiser for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Monies raised support programs and services in local communities that improve the quality of life for people living with dementia and their families, and support other activities like education and public awareness.
‘Walks’ take place every year in 150 communities across Canada. In 2014, 24,000 walkers participated, raising $4.5 million.
Nationally, the Alzheimer’s Society has worked to get every province holding their ‘Walks’ at the same time. To this end, during 2015, the individual provincial Alzheimer’s Societies got together and chose the first Sunday in May (this year it lands on May 1) to be the new date for future ‘Walks’, starting this year.
“This year we will no longer be called the Investor’s Group Walk for Memories,” said Liz, “Due to everyone now walking on the first Sunday in May, the ‘Walk’ will be called the Investor’s Group Walk For Alzheimer’s.”
Liz commented that the community of Clearwater participated in the Barriere ‘Walk’ last year and that she expects they will be joining together again in 2016.
“We welcome anyone and any community to join us in the ‘Walk’,” says Liz, “We are all there for the same cause, to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. It really doesn’t matter where you are from – just come on out and ‘Walk’.”
For more information about volunteering at the 2016 Barriere Investor’s Group Walk For Alzheimer’s, or about making a donation, please contact either Liz at 250-672-9337 or Margaret at 250-672-9330.