2020 IG Wealth Management Walk For Alzheimer’s Spokespeople
A unique Walk of hope, happiness and a caring community
INGERSOLL – Following his diagnosis of vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in 2009 Charlie Boast greeted the opportunity to participate in the Walk for Alzheimer’s and other events and programs with a sense of personal eagerness, happiness and hope.
“The Walk really makes me feel I’m functioning more normally,” he said. “Great physical activity and I believe it’s good for my brain and mental powers. I look forward to it because, as well as being with family, it provides a chance to chat with folks and make new friends.”
Now the Alzheimer Society of Oxford’s family spokesperson for both the Walk and Coffee Break, he says being active both physically and mentally has always been an integral part of his life.
“All my life I’ve golfed, curled and I’m still very active, I go for long walks every day which I really enjoy,” he adds with a smile. “I love collecting stamps, coins and I’m a real steam-train fanatic. To keep thinking, I’m regularly on the Net reading, researching, discovering and learning.
“I’m from the little community of Rapid City, Manitoba. My dad ran a grain elevator there and I started working on railway extra gangs, employed with CN Rail, later with Canada Malting in Thunder Bay and also kept very busy tackling union business.”
His wife Heather said he implemented a computer program with CN, adding with great pride that his jobs over the years always required hard work and “a considerable amount of thinking and planning.”
Heather, whose father had Alzheimer’s disease, first learned of the Walk from her cousin who attended the event as a St. John’s Ambulance volunteer. She and Charlie began participating the year after her dad died in 2009. It was initially just them but it soon became a real family affair.
“It’s wonderful participating at the Walk with our daughter Meghan and our lovely grandchildren seven-year-old Addison and two-year-old Brookston. Focusing on hope, fun, positive thinking and happiness, it offers a lovely feeling of belonging to a big community, taking away some of the fear and stigma associated with dementia.
“Our daughter and her children are active with us in many Alzheimer Society of Oxford activities. At our first Walk with them we photographed Addison, two or three then, happily dancing with her Pappa.
“And Meghan’s great using the Net to get donations from people all over. She’s lived in other places so she has connections. Our son in Yellowknife and friends from all over Canada really support us and have helped build quite a large family network to fundraise for the important programs and services the Alzheimer Society of Oxford offers.”
One of Heather’s Walk highlights is the Lights of Hope where walkers carry a candle, walking in memory or in honour of someone they know/knew with the disease. While it’s an emotional activity bringing back memories, she feels it also provides a sense of hope that a cure will be found.
An avid researcher, Charlie enjoys interacting with the Alzheimer Society of Oxford staff and chatting about other programs like Minds in Motion and the potential of Brain Booster. He says as a spokesperson he now has more chances to offer help and talk with those needing assistance.
“The staff is so helpful,” he explained. “Everyone goes out of their way to answer all my questions, no matter how big or small. I’m very happy to do this as a spokesperson and it helps me keep on top of things and in tune with the latest facts.
“I like finding ways like this that help me keep my brain active. It’s win-win because I help people and in turn this ultimately helps me. Perhaps this might also assist me a little when it comes to remembering things a little better.”
With a proud look on her face it’s clear when Heather speaks, she is just as happy and grateful as Charlie. She describes his new role as a real honour and a much-appreciated opportunity to keep himself busy while helping others in similar situations.
“I love what Charlie is doing now,” she added. “People who’ve known him for years are delighted to see that he is still going strong. I think Shelley approached us about him becoming a spokesperson because he has been so positive and upbeat from the beginning.
“He’s so friendly. When we go to support groups, people love getting the chance to chat with him. Initially there was A Changing Melody, a workshop helping families with early diagnosis to keep focusing on the positives. They admired Charlie’s personal strength.”
Charlie and Heather are encouraging anyone who hasn’t attended a Walk to give it a try, enjoy the experience of belonging to a great community, sharing stories with old and new friends while contributing to a worthy cause.
The 2019 IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s events in Woodstock and Tillsonburg raised a record-breaking $183,500, an increase of more than $20,000 over the 2018 total.
The 2020 event is set for Saturday, January 18 from 10 a.m.-noon in Tillsonburg and Saturday, January 25 from 2 p.m.-4 p.m. in Woodstock and the goal is $200,000.