Delia Visscher: Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5k dynamo at it again in 2019

Flowers are blooming around the city, cherry blossom trees are shading the streets and there’s another sign of spring in Vancouver: 88-year-old Delia Visscher is walking the False Creek seawall and 10th Avenue to UBC, now that she’s deep into her training for the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5k Charity Challenge on June 23.

An array of medals, race bibs and photos of Delia beaming at finish lines decorate her home – a collection that has grown exponentially since she first participated in the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon in 2013. It was a feat Delia took on to challenge herself and raise funds for the Alzheimer Society of B.C. following her husband Jans’ transition into long-term care. She had initially connected with the Society for support and education when Jans was diagnosed with dementia. Since that first race and Jans’ passing, Delia has gone on to raise more than $28,900 for the Society. This year the Society’s top Charity Challenge fundraiser is on a mission to push the total past $30,000.

Delia says, “There are three words that are not in my vocabulary: ‘Tired’ and ‘old age.’”

The retired professional ballet dancer laces up her walking shoes three times a week and participates in races monthly – from the Forever Young 8k in Richmond to the Eastside 10k – to keep active and continually challenge herself. Last year her training paid off and she landed a third-place finish within her age category on the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5k’s shorter route. This year, she urges anyone considering joining the Charity Challenge to take part – and for the newcomers, she has a couple of training tips.

“Don’t push,” she says. “Start with walking a short distance, and don’t think you can’t do it. … It’s no big deal. You just try to get home in one piece.”

Although there are charity partners for many of the races Delia participates in, she chooses to keep her fundraising efforts focused on supporting the Alzheimer Society of B.C., a charity she says is financially sustainable and responsible with donor funds. Delia is motivated to take part in the Charity Challenge year after year because she sees the need in two areas: the need for more education about dementia, and the need to support dementia research.

“[The Society] has given us so much. If we could finally find a cure, that would be wonderful.”

This year Delia will be walking on a team called “Inspired by Josie,” in honour of her walking partner Josie, who died this past year. Donations to the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5k Charity Challenge team can be made here. For details on how to register as a participant, or to volunteer as a part of the Society’s cheer squad, visit http://alzbc.org/Scotia-Half-5k.