The fourth annual Walk/Run for Alzheimer’s at Wakamow’s Connor Park will take place Saturday, August 27 at 8 a.m. Early registrants receive a free event t-shirt, but registrations will be accepted right up until the walk/running actually starts.
Organizer Sarah Clarke, a teacher at Peacock Collegiate, began the fundraiser in 2019. She was following the example of her students, who created passion projects as part of her grade eight class.
“My grandma passed away from Alzheimer’s about four years ago, so that was the year I started the event,” Clarke said. “But it was my students that inspired me to do something out of my comfort zone, something creative and new, and it was a learning opportunity.”
The Connor Park route highlights the beauty of Wakamow Valley — in keeping with the fun, non-competitive spirit of the affair. There are 5k and 10k options for participants, weather permitting. The course winds up and down through the trees and wraps around the Moose Jaw River, and Clarke keeps a careful eye on conditions leading up to the day.
Local support for the Walk/Run has been outstanding.
“I’ve had over 25 businesses over the years that have donated and sponsored the event, and I’ve had over 100 participants every year,” Clarke said. “I hope to keep growing it. Ideally, I would love this event to continue annually for many years and have participants come from all over the place.”
Becky Quist with the Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan said the society relies on fundraising events like these to provide support and resources to the thousands of individuals and families across Saskatchewan who live with dementia.
“Not only do events like these raise much-needed revenue to support our projects, they grow awareness about dementia, caregiving, and the services offered by the Alzheimer Society,” Quist said. “Almost everyone has been affected by dementia in some way.”
We know that people affected by dementia who connect with the Alzheimer Society and our services have a profoundly better experience and quality of life than those who don’t, Quist added.
She also sent a message to everyone signing up for the 2022 Walk/Run:
“Thank you! Your support means everything to us and we can’t do what we do without you. Last year, the Moose Jaw Run/Walk4Alz raised over $6500, and it keeps growing each year. We are so grateful for Sarah Clarke organizing this event, so if you get the chance, thank her for all her hard work and dedication!”
Last November, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) honoured Clarke with an award for Outstanding Individual Volunteer. The AFP called her “an individual who exemplifies what it means to make a difference.”
She spends months preparing with the help of family, friends, and former students, and even successfully adapted to public health requirements during the pandemic to keep the event going.
Clarke said that not everyone who participates has to walk/run five to ten kilometres. Spectators are welcome and can donate without hitting the trail themselves.
“I always encourage people to bring their families out, and they can bring their friendly dogs on a leash. I just want it to be an event everyone feels welcome at.”