When Isabel Phillips crossed the finish line at her first Times Colonist 10k, she took second place within her age category, but for her friends and family cheering for her on the sidelines, she had won. Isabel had been living with Alzheimer’s disease for about seven years when she told her husband Michael she wanted to run the race. They joined a clinic together and Isabel ran every training kilometre to prepare – sometimes more when she’d run off-course and Michael would chase after her to bring her back into the group.
“She was so determined to do it to show that she could,” Michael says. “When she got the silver medal, that wasn’t good enough. She did it again the next year and got the gold. She’s pure grit and determination. That’s the way she’s fought this awful disease.”
Isabel is among people affected by dementia who are being honoured at the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s this May. The online event is the largest fundraiser for the Alzheimer Society of B.C., and, this year, participants are encouraged to walk their own way throughout May before joining together for an online celebration at 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 30, streamed on the Alzheimer Society of B.C. Facebook page.
When Isabel was diagnosed, Michael saw dementia not as the end of the world, but the beginning of something new. Now, as Isabel lives in long-term care and the family navigates another chapter of the dementia journey, Michael focuses on the spirit that’s still there, and the love Isabel brings out of people as she pedals around in her wheelchair smiling and charming the staff. He also shares his experience and accepts help through the Alzheimer Society of B.C.
“You should lift the veil and let people know what you’re going through,” he says. “If you don’t, people have this narrow vision of what it’s like and you’ll go through pitfalls and obstacles alone.”
Funds raised for the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s help British Columbians at any stage in the dementia journey by supporting the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s programs and services. To register for the event, participants can visit walkforalzheimers.ca, choose their local community and create a fundraising page to share with friends and family. No matter where or when they walk (in accordance with current public health orders), participants will make a difference in the lives of people living with dementia and their caregivers.
If you are affected by dementia, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. can help. Visit www.alzheimerbc.org to learn more.