Community

Chilliwack kids hope for a cure for Alzheimer's

Campbell Pitkethly, 10, and Everett Ritter, 8, are taking part in the Walk for Memories to help raise money for Alzheimer
Campbell Pitkethly, 10, and Everett Ritter, 8, are taking part in the Walk for Memories to help raise money for Alzheimer's disease.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS

They're two Chilliwack kids keen on helping those with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.

Everett Rutter and Campbell Pitkethy have vowed to do all they possibly can to raise funds this month for the Alzheimer Society of BC.

They were greeting shoppers at Cottonwood Mall last Friday night, sharing details about the Investors Group Indoor Walk for Memories from the information booth.

This year the Walk for Memories is slated for Jan. 27 at the Landing Sports Centre in Chilliwack, and funds go to support research for a cure, as well as services and support.

More than 70,000 British Columbians are dealing Alzheimer's or dementia, and 10,000 of those people are under the age of 65. And there's more to come, as baby boomers enter the golden years.

"The more a family knows and learns about Alzheimer's, including children, the easier it is to dissipate the awkwardness, fear and stigma we find around the disease," says Jillian Armit of the local Alzheimer group.

The annual theme for the 2013 event is "I'm still me," underlining that the person who is suffering is not their disease. The goal is eliminating the stigma that surrounds the condition.

"There are some really incredible people coming to the forefront who are willing to talk about what they're going through. The message is 'I'm still me.' That helps people understand that it's all about maintaining quality of life."

Everett Rutter, 8, says he was inspired to get involved because of fundraising efforts by his brother, Gavin, who was originally inspired by Campbell Pitkethy, 10.

"When I grow up I want to have a world without Alzheimer's," Everett says.

Everett's campaign for this year is in honour of his great-grandmother, Frances.

"She's kind of confused. She can talk, but not in full sentences," he says.

Everett is filmed on video talking about his dear relative and the plight of dementia on the website.

In Campbell's situation, her beloved Papa Don was diagnosed with Alzheimer's when he was only 60 years old.

This is her fourth year of fundraising for the Walk. She plans to show the video she made at an upcoming school assembly in front of 600 kids.

Campbell is hoping to raise an impressive total of $5,000, with the help of her schoolmates and a friend whose grandparent also struggles with Alzheimer's.

Since the 10-year-old loves to make healthy smoothies, when people donate to the cause, she offers recipes on her website for her favourite smoothies, which she calls "Brain Freezies."

Participants in the indoor Walk for Memories can sit, stand or stroll at the indoor event on Jan. 27 with registration starting at 1 p.m.  The walk runs from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Landing Sports Centre. This year's honoree, Vi Hoyt, and her family will be on-hand during the walk.

Register at www.walkformemories.com. Funds provide services and support for people with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, as well as research for causes and the cure.

Both youth volunteers have websites people can visit for information, www.brainfreezies.ca and www.helpmakememories.com as well as www.alzheimerbc.org

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