For Mridula, celebrating the life and memory of her beloved husband, Ashwini Kumar is a walk in the park – 150 parks to be exact.
Ashwini was a nature lover. Walks and park visits were a cornerstone in their family’s lives. Even after Ashwini was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, he and Mridula continued to walk together. Now, Mridula has taken on a big goal: She is visiting 150 parks during Canada’s 150th anniversary to raise awareness, fundraise and commemorate her late husband.
When Ashwini was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1997, it came as a total shock. “I didn’t even know what dementia or Alzheimer’s meant,” recalls Mridula, “and we were left without resources to understand how our lives would be impacted, or where to go for support.”
As the disease progressed, Mridula and Ashwini’s plight was made worse when support organizations seemed to turn their backs on them. “It felt like I was constantly fighting with the systems that were meant to help me.”
“Naturally, you ask yourself ‘Why me?’ There were no genetic indicators in my husband’s family. It’s frustrating to not have an answer.”
There is still no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease, and no fully effective prevention methods. While research continues to expand in the areas of diagnosis, cure and care, families like Mridula’s are still left with unanswered questions.
Mridula noticed that walking seemed to soothe her husband. Even as the disease progressed, Ashwini would relish any opportunity to go for walks. Indoors, he would sometimes pace. For Mridula, this became a reminder of the nature lover that he’d always been.
Alzheimer’s disease ultimately claimed Ashwini’s life 10 years after receiving his diagnosis. Now, Mridula wants to do whatever she can to help find a cure and build awareness of Alzheimer’s disease.
“One of the most valuable contributions is building awareness. By putting on a fundraiser I am able to promote something that I truly care about. Even with a small event, I am able to promote awareness about this disease.”
By the end of August, Mridula will already have visited 130 parks as part of her fundraiser, and plans to complete the remaining 20 park visits before Christmas Eve. Her family has rallied around the cause.
“My park visit is self organized and managed with the help of my daughter, Nirja who has been driving and visiting parks with me. My son Awnish and my two grandchildren Maya and Shawn have also been great supporters. My sister-in-law, Ragini, who is visiting from Australia was a great inspiration for me to accomplish my goal.”
I wish that one day a cure is discovered for this disease. In the meantime all we can do is help those in need in whatever way we can. For me, it is fundraising and at the same time visiting the beauty that Canada has to offer.”
“When someone you love becomes a memory,” explains Mridula, “that memory becomes a treasure.”
Learn more about hosting your own fundraising initiative in support of the Alzheimer Society. Visit our Anything for Alzheimer's homepage http://alzgiving.ca/anything.