Deb Podowski says no one should have to climb alone at the Climb for Alzheimer’s
Deb Podowski and her mother Isabel.
Helping other people have a better experience of the dementia journey can be a powerful motivator for fundraisers participating in the upcoming Climb for Alzheimer's on Sunday, September 30.
"We felt like we were floating," says Deb Podowski, describing how it felt when her mother Isabel was diagnosed with dementia in 2000. Deb, an actor who had appeared on shows like ER, was based in Los Angeles at the time. She moved back to the Lower Mainland to care for her mother.
When Isabel was diagnosed, health-care providers did not have the option to refer families to services like the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s First Link® dementia support. Looking back, Deb wishes they’d found their way to the Society so they could have connected to services like support groups and education. “It was a lot harder back then for caregivers to find support,” Deb says. It took them a while to access services and eventually Isabel transitioned into long-term care before passing away in 2015. “It was a really tough climb for my mother, with lots of ups and downs.”
Motivated by her experiences, Deb is dedicated to helping other families affected by dementia get the support they need. Deb and her co-captain Curtis Lum – from the TV show Siren – have engaged a whole team of passionate supporters who are part of Vancouver’s vibrant film and television industry. They’ve named their team Artists for Alzheimer’s.
“Vancouver has a great community of actors,” says Deb, whose work as an acting coach has helped her recruit many young actors from the Lower Mainland who have been touched by Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia and want to do something about it. These include The 100’s Sachin Sahel and Lola Flannery, and Riverdale’s Tiera Skovbye and her sister Ali, who have all been instrumental in getting the word out.
How is the Artists for Alzheimer’s team motivating people to donate? Inspired by the viral dance craze, team members are committing to do a “Floss dance for Alzheimer’s” as the donations roll in. When the team hit $10,000, Deb was one of the first to get in on the action and more team members – like Riverdale’s Tiera Skovbye and her sister Ali, along with her co-star Drew Tanner – will be “flossing” as they hit more donations.
Fundraising events like the Climb for Alzheimer's highlight that no one should have to face dementia alone, that it takes a team – a community, in fact – up the mountain. People like Deb are helping to make it happen. "Being there 100 per cent for someone living with dementia is extremely difficult. A support system is essential."