There's still time to get involved in the Alzheimer Society of Oxford's 21st annual Walk for Memories in Tillsonburg.
"We can never really predict (how many) before the walk because we don't ask for pre-registration," said Shelley Green, executive director of the Alzheimer Society – Oxford.
"People come out for the walk on the day of. Sometimes we know some of the teams that are participating, but most times people that are coming have not registered in advance. So people can get involved at any time, it's not too late to get involved now."
This year's Walk for Memories takes place Saturday, Jan. 23, from 9-11 a.m. at the Tillsonburg Community Centre's Lions Auditorium.
"Even a couple days before the event, if you start to fundraise it does not take long to raise $100-150, even $200. It does not take long and it all adds up very quickly."
Last year was a great year for Alzheimer Society Oxford, which holds walks in Tillsonburg, Ingersoll and Woodstock, setting a new record of $122,000, about $6,000 more than 2014.
"The money stays local, it stays here in Oxford County for programs and services," said Green.
It's a fun, family event, said Green. You can participate on your own or come with family, friends or co-workers. You can also form a team to enter the group challenge.
"What we've tried to do is introduce a number of different activities to give people something fun to do. We have an educational activity, Writings on the Wall, and last year we introduced Healthier Brain Passport. We also have free massages, free food, face painting, children's activities...
"We also have the Lights of Hope Walk (about 10 a.m.). It's a very meaningful time of our walk when we dim the lights and we have special music. We really just take time to think about why we're there, to remember those people who have lived with Alzheimer's and dementia, and to honour those who are living today with the disease. It's a beautiful time. It's not only a very important time of remembrance, it's also such a showing of support... It's absolutely fantastic. It's a very moving experience for many people, they just feel the support of the community around them."
And it's never too late to start fundraising, Green added, which you can also do online.
"People can also fundraise online at www.walkforalzheimers.ca and that website will take you through all the steps you need to do to register and to ask your friends, family and contacts if they would make a donation. It's really convenient and it's fast."
Alzheimer Society of Oxford receives 61 per cent of their funds from the LHIN (Local Health Integration Network), and 39 per cent from fundraising and donations.
"Thirty-nine per cent of your budget is a substantial amount," Green noted. "We're so grateful to live in Oxford County because the people of Oxford County have supported our organization very, very well over the years."
A few educational programs and seminars typically have a fee, but support services for individuals, support groups, and educational support for families are at no charge.
"It's very accessible to our community because we aren't charging fees. That's where support of our community is vitally important... that we can continue to deliver the services we are today because of people's generosity."
The demand for their services increases every year, said Green, for a variety of reasons.
"There are more people living longer and therefore more people being diagnosed with Alzheimer's and dementia. There's just a much greater awareness of the disease... we have doctors that are more readily willing to diagnose Alzheimer's and dementia. We're seeing people much, much earlier in the disease process."