Local dementia advocate opens up about life with dementia at inaugural breakfast fundraiser
“You don’t look like someone who has dementia.” It’s a comment Craig Burns has been confronted with since he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016. Craig was working in non-profit management in Kelowna and active in cross country skiing, biking and roller blading when he noticed changes in his cognition, which eventually caused him to leave the work he loved. For Craig, the reality of dementia was difficult to accept. For people who only saw Craig as the great communicator and listener that he had always been, the diagnosis was easy to question. A strong advocate for people living with dementia, Craig has become a research participant, advisory group member and national awareness spokesperson. On March 10, he will speak at the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s fundraiser Breakfast to Remember. The event, which is being held in Kelowna for the first time, is presented by Valley Mitsubishi.
“It’s hard sometimes to inform and educate without somehow feeling like I’m pushing something that is not real,” Craig says. “When people question my diagnosis because I don’t show any signs of it, it reinforces the stereotype that Alzheimer’s disease only affects the elderly. They may be picturing someone in the later stages of the disease. I don’t fit that mould. I help them to see there isn’t a mould.”
Craig first connected with the Alzheimer Society of B.C. while he was caregiving for his mother, who also lived with dementia. Following his own diagnosis, Craig accessed the Society’s support and education and soon began giving back. He is a member of the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s Board of Directors, as well as its Leadership Group of People Living with Dementia, where his valued input helps shape the future of resources available for other people facing the disease.
“The public’s awareness and knowledge are improving, yes,” Craig says. “There still is much more to be done to educate as well as live in dementia-friendly communities. It takes all of us, people living with dementia, caregivers, friends and health-care professionals, to share the realities of dementia.”
Craig continues to live an active life, physically, socially and in his ongoing commitment to breaking down the stigma surrounding dementia. Guests at Breakfast to Remember will hear Craig talk about living with dementia in his community. They will also hear from Canadian soccer legend Vancouver Whitecaps Club Liaison FC Bob Lenarduzzi, who will give insight into his career and personal connection to dementia as the morning’s keynote speaker. The event is an opportunity for local business and community leaders to network while raising funds to help support people affected by dementia. It runs from 7 – 9 a.m. on Tuesday, March 10 at the Coast Capri Hotel in Kelowna.
For more details, or to purchase tickets, visit BreakfastToRemember.ca.