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P.E.I. Alzheimer Society takes annual walk online

Corrine Hendricken-Eldershaw, left, and Jaime Constable take a break Saturday after recording their video for the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s. Contributed
Corrine Hendricken-Eldershaw, left, and Jaime Constable take a break Saturday after recording their video for the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s. Contributed
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

The IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s moved online this year, with a Facebook Live video event on Sunday.

For Corrine Hendricken-Eldershaw, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of P.E.I., it was a way to adapt to the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) pandemic and the resulting bans on large gatherings, while still uniting the community.

Hendricken-Eldershaw, along with CEOs of other Alzheimer Societies across the country, made the decision together, she said.

“We can’t walk with someone, but we can still walk for someone this year and that’s kind of our focus, so, instead of cancelling the walk, we decided let’s move it online.”

Throughout the month of May, people across the country were invited to share videos and photos of themselves on social media using the hashtag #IGWalkforAlz.

The Facebook Live event, which ran from 1-2:30 p.m., was the culmination of the monthlong campaign and featured plenty of those messages from Newfoundland to B.C. throughout the broadcast.

While it was the first virtual Walk for Alzheimer’s, it also marked the first time all the Alzheimer Societies in the country co-ordinated their walks on the same day, said Hendricken-Eldershaw.

“Why we’re doing the coast-to-coast-to-coast is because we really felt that’s one way to show that collective good of people walking.”

Help from friends

Of course, a project like this involves a learning curve and requires help.

This meant reaching out to an old friend, Jaime Constable, said Hendricken-Eldershaw.

“I was certainly lucky that a former education co-ordinator for me from nine years ago came back to P.E.I. before COVID.”

Lynn Loftus, a person living with dementia and who is a director on the board of the P.E.I. Alzheimer Society, points to a picture of her mother, who also had dementia, as she tells part of her story Saturday during the Walk for Alzheimer's livestream.
Lynn Loftus, a person living with dementia and who is a director on the board of the P.E.I. Alzheimer Society, points to a picture of her mother, who also had dementia, as she tells part of her story Saturday during the Walk for Alzheimer's livestream.

Constable offered tech and social media support to Hendrick-Eldershaw.

“It requires a very different approach than if we were going to have the walk in person, so (Hendricken-Eldershaw) just needed some extra support with that and it helps having someone who already knows the business and the branding," Constable explained.

The women also hosted the local opening segment with help from UPEI professor Chris Vessey.

Their video highlighted many of the submissions that later appeared in the broader program, which also featured messages from politicians, caretakers, doctors and those living with dementia.

Difficulties

Both Hendricken-Eldershaw and Constable recognized the difficulty in getting support like the walk received in previous years. It typically generated between $30,000 and $70,000.

This year, Hendricken-Eldershaw expects to see drastically reduced donations.

While the trouble can be linked to COVID-19 and the economic impact it's had on individuals and businesses, there was also difficulty for some to participate online, said Constable.

“The engagement and the cohesiveness of the event that we would usually have by coming together in person was much harder to do in an online event.”

Despite the difficulties, it was still important to do the walk and not postpone it, Constable said.

“I mean, the walk does raise money for programs and services, but a lot of it is about raising awareness and reducing stigma.”

With the event happening across the country for the first time virtually, the awareness might be able to spread more easily across social media.

Donations are being accepted until June 8, at which time the P.E.I. results will be posted, including the top fundraisers.

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