RUNNING FOR ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE
FRANCIS RACINE Francis.Racine@eap.on.ca A recent heatwave and countless blisters couldn’t stop David Merpaw from reaching Hawkesbury on August 21.
“I wanted to bring awareness to Alzheimer’s,” he explained in a conference room at the local Alzheimer’s Society. “It’s an invisible disease and it’s very cruel.”
While some donate money or their time to the Alzheimer’s Society, Merpaw decided to do something a little different. Starting in Hamilton, he ran every day in order to reach his final destination, his hometown. His run brought him to eight different Alzheimer Societies.
Merpaw explained that he experienced the disease through one of his close friends. “His father developed Alzheimer’s,” he started. “It took a big toll on my friend. His father couldn’t even recognize him anymore.”
It wasn’t the athlete’s first brush with long distance running. Last year, he ran from Kingston to Cornwall, again in the hopes of raising awareness for the disease. “I strongly believe that every Canadian knows someone with Alzheimer’s,” he said. “I want people to know the message I’m carrying.”
Merpaw’s 2017 run managed to collect $3,500. “We can’t cure Alzheimer’s,” he said, adding that “we can only slow it down.”
Living with Alzheimer’s
For Jacqueline Ménard, the disease hits home. Her husband of 56 years suffers from it. “It’s very hard being a caregiver to someone with Alzheimer’s,” she said emotionally. “It takes a toll on you. But I love my husband very much. I’ve taken care of him.
She thanked the local Alzheimer’s Society for the patience they demonstrated with her. “I came here quite by accident,” she recalled. “I simply walked in and they listened to me and they really helped me. They give you a key here, that opens so many doors.”
The woman, now a resident of the McGill manor, along with her husband, stressed that she doesn’t know what would have happened without the Society. “I thought I was the only one going through this,” she said. “But thanks to all the volunteers and staff members here, I realized that I’m not.”
The Alzheimer’s Society invites anyone who is affected by Alzheimer’s disease to visit them at their office, in the Hawkesbury mall’s second storey.
Jacqueline Ménard, Marie Rochon, toutes deux proches d’individus atteint de la maladie d’Alzheimer, ainsi que Jacqueline Brunet, coordinatrice pour la Société de l’Alzheimer de Hawkesbury, pose fièrement avec David Merpaw. Celui-ci a traversé l’Ontario à pied afin d’amasser des fonds pour la maladie. L’an dernier, M. Merpaw avait amassé 3500 $ en courant de Kingston à Cornwall.