Using Fitness to Make A Difference

Posted September 2020

A lot of you may not know this, but Alzheimer’s runs in my family.

Using Fitness to Make A Difference
My Grandpa and I. My Grandma and my sister.

As a kid, I remember my mother telling me about her mother, and how young she was when the signs started to appear. Confusion, memory loss and a slower pace of living were just a few signs of what was coming. I remember visiting my grandmother, when she was in her late eighties, in a nursing home in Dublin. We walked into the room and she looked so peaceful and quiet. She didn’t recognize my mother (nor me), which was hard to understand and believe. How can you not recognize your own daughter? I remember my mother telling me that my grandmother really liked a stuffed toy bird, a red cardinal, that she had given her on a previous trip from Canada.  It sang its characteristic lovely melody when pressed!  My mother chose the cardinal for its vibrant red color as they contrasted beautifully with the snow in Quebec in the winter. It was a way to connect from afar and hopefully bring a little moment of joy into her day and it seemed to work!  I can’t yet really understand the pain and sadness she must have felt every time she went to visit her mother and wasn’t recognized by her. I hope I never have to live through that.  It is indeed a sobering thought to know that the risk for Alzheimer’s increases dramatically with age, with 20 to 30% of those in their 80’s affected. The risk is also increased in those with a predisposing gene and that have a family history of the disease.


Using Fitness to Make A Difference
We are walking in a field in County Kerry, Ireland. My grandmother is pushing my sister – not easy in a field! Meanwhile my Granda enjoys looking at the cattle!!!

You know me even better by now, and that I love anything fitness related. You also know I am a huge fan of being part of a community of strong-minded healthy people. Taking care of your body is important, but also taking care of your mind is paramount for a long, healthy fulfilling life.

I hope that my healthy lifestyle will help stave off or prevent that sad, debilitating, devastating condition. The very encouraging news is that a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise is now known as one of the few “modifiable factors” for Alzheimer’s disease (read more here).

When I heard about the Walk to End Alzheimer’s happening October 25th 2020 in Santa Monica, I was intrigued and excited about it. It was the first time I heard about this type of  event to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer’s. Did you know that more than 5 million Americans (690,000 Californians) are living with Alzheimer’s disease and that 16 million family members and friends provide care to people living with the condition (1.6 million in California)?

Of course, I was also curious to know how this walk was going to take place in light of the  important COVID-19 regulations and precautions. After doing some research I found out that the Alzheimer’s Association is inviting people to join the fight to end Alzheimer’s by participating in walking as individuals, with immediate family or in small groups on sidewalks, tracks and trails across Santa Monica. This way exercise can be performed safely while respecting physical distancing rules. A lot of the events’ usual components will be delivered to participants via smartphones, tablets and computers. Partakers will use the app and new « Walk Mainstage » to track their steps and distance, amongst other cool features. And you know me, I’m all about fitness and tracking for a good cause!

I was sold right away. After running and biking with my family in Quebec, this summer, for Le Grand défi Pierre Lavoie, the goal of which is to focus on preventative health care, why not also Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Santa Monica? It will be a fun adventure: you get to walk through the streets of Santa Monica and discover new neighborhoods with friends and/or family! A further important benefit is that helping others is now known to improve your health (read more here). This is particularly important in these challenging times.


« With the dollars raised, the Alzheimer’s Association can continue to provide care and support to families during these difficult times while also advancing critical research toward methods of treatment and prevention. » – Wendy Vizek, Vice President, constituent events at the Alzheimer’s Association.


Furthermore, I thought that I had been through rough times recently, but can you imagine what it must be like for those others so unfortunate to lose a job and still have to provide for their family and care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s? That requires superhuman strength and I’ll be very proud to contribute in any way I can to supporting  these incredible individuals.


Who wants to join me in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s? Register now by clicking this link.

Or maybe you would simply like to donate to our team.



« Alzheimer’s is not taking a hiatus during COVID-19 and neither are we. »- Meg Barron, Executive Director at Alzheimer’s Association California Southland Chapter.