Walk for Alzheimers to take place in Kelowna May 28

Walking for Alzheimers

When Diane and Michael Chopek of Kelowna exchanged their wedding vows 35 years ago, they not only pledged their commitment to each other but also to their extended families. Over the years, their family has demonstrated remarkable resilience in the face of adversity.

When Paul, Diane's father-in-law, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia, Diane stepped up as his main caregiver. As Paul's cognitive abilities waned, Diane shouldered an increasing number of responsibilities to support her mother-in-law. Initially, Paul was grateful for her assistance, but as his illness progressed, he grew resistant, accusing Diane of theft.

Hurt but undeterred, Diane turned to the Alzheimer Society of B.C. for assistance and support. She soon discovered she was far from alone in her journey. "They gave me answers. They gave me relief," said Diane. "I realized that we were not alone in what we were going through. You’ve got to build connections, build that community of fellow caregivers."

On May 28, Diane will be among those honoured at the Alzheimer Society of B.C.'s IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s, the organization’s biggest annual fundraiser event sponsored by Go Auto. This event serves as a platform to challenge the stigma associated with dementia while raising funds to provide essential support for affected individuals and their families.

Those who wish to contribute to the cause will be glad to know that the Cowell Foundation and the Lecky Foundation have pledged to match all online donations made by May 28, up to a cumulative total of $80,000. This initiative allows donors from Kelowna and beyond to double the impact of their contributions, thereby extending support to their relatives, friends, and neighbours living with dementia.

The support Diane received from the Alzheimer Society of B.C. was instrumental, particularly the in-person and virtual support groups she has been part of for the past five years. Diane cared for Paul until his passing this past winter.

“We're putting one foot in front of the other and we're surviving,” Diane says about her family's ongoing journey.

With over 85,000 British Columbians currently living with dementia, the province is on track to witness a dramatic increase in prevalence, with an estimated 250,000 diagnosed cases by 2050 if current trends persist.

The Alzheimer Society of B.C., the province's sole charity dedicated to supporting those affected by dementia, uses funds raised through initiatives like the Walk to offer crucial in-person and online resources, such as support groups, fitness and social programming, and the First Link Dementia Helpline. The Society also promotes research into the causes of and potential cures for dementia, aiming to improve the lives of those affected by the disease.

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