The Alzheimer Society of Oxford set a lofty goal for its two Walk for Alzheimer’s in Oxford County – and they are close to reaching it after Saturday’s event in Woodstock.
“Right now, we’re at $184,073.56 for (Oxford) county,” said Shelley Green, Executive Director, Alzheimer Society of Oxford, “and that’s going to climb. Our goal was $200,000 and we always have lots of money that comes in after, so I’m quite confident that we will get to our goal.
“It’s amazing. That’s a huge percentage increase. So we’re thrilled, absolutely thrilled.”
Saturday’s two-hour Walk for Alzheimer’s at the Oxford Auditorium included a silent auction, live music by Randy Grey, the Lights of Hope, game zone, exhibits, photo booth, and an environmentally-friendly food area.
“We have volunteers involved in almost every aspect of the Walk,” said Green.
The fundraising total in Woodstock – more than $140,000 – was $30,000 more than 2019 on the day of the event. Per capita, Green said the combined Oxford County Walks (Tillsonburg and Woodstock) rank among the highest Alzheimer Society fundraisers in the country.
“I’m very confident in saying that,” said Green, “because we have a population of… 110,000, and look at what we raised. That is incredible.
“It speaks to so many groups of people. It speaks to our generous community, our volunteers, our sponsors, our donors who give to the silent auction and door prizes… it speaks to the walkers who are out there working hard to raise money. It speaks to everybody. This is truly a community event and a community effort. And it’s just phenomenal what Oxford County does with our Walk for Alzheimer’s every year.
“We’ve had more teams than ever – great team participation, lots of people now raising over $600, many people over $1,000.”
The Alzheimer Society of Oxford needs to raise 42% of its annual budget, which is about $470,000. Funds are raised through the two Oxford County Walk for Alzheimer’s, Coffee Break, donations (including in memoriam) and grants.
“It’s a lot of effort to raise that kind of money and it would be absolutely impossible if we didn’t have this wonderfully generous, compassionate community of Oxford County,” said Green.
Tillsonburg’s 25th Annual Walk for Alzheimer’s on a snowy Jan. 18 morning raised almost $42,000, which is the most they have raised in Tillsonburg – and more money was expected to come in.
Last year the Tillsonburg Walk raised just under $38,000.
Zoey Papadakos led Tillsonburg’s individual fundraisers.
“Zoey is amazing,” Green smiled.
Walking in memory of loved ones
Rita Wood and Monica Vandenberghe, from Norwich and Delhi, walked in memory of their mother, Simonne Delodder, at the 26th annual Walk for Alzheimer’s Saturday at the Oxford Auditorium in Woodstock.
It was the first year the team of six family members participated in the Walk for Alzheimer’s and they made Shuffle for Simonne T-shirts for the event.
“It’s something we thought about before, we talked about it, and we said ‘you know what, we’re going to do this.’ And it’s something we’re going to do every year,” said Vandenberghe.
“My parents were from Tillsonburg – she (Simonne) passed away almost two years ago from Alzheimer’s. She had Alzheimer’s for about… almost 10 years.”
“She was a fighter,” Wood nodded.
Shuffle for Simonne didn’t have an exact fundraising amount, but Wood estimated it to be about $1,300.
“It’s fun, it’s emotional,” said Wood. “It’s all good.”
“We enjoyed it, it’s definitely nice,” said Vandenberghe.
Wood and Vandenberghe agreed the highlight of the afternoon was the candlelit Lights of Hope when participants walk to the song Remember Me by Joanne Does.
“Yeah, it tugs you,” said Wood.
“It’s wonderful,” said Vandenberghe. “It’s a wonderful thing they’re doing. Definitely we’ll be back next year – whatever one works – and maybe we can grab a few more family members.”
Tillsonburg’s 25th Annual Walk for Alzheimer’s was a week earlier on Jan. 18, but Vandenberghe said some team members had commitments that day.
“So we came to this one,” said Vandenberghe. “Probably if we didn’t have something going on last weekend, I think maybe we would have tried the Tillsonburg one.”
Van Meer surpasses $2,000 fundraising goal
Woodstock’s Addison Van Meer, with support from her family, raised almost $2,000 for the 2019 Walk for Alzheimer’s.
This year her goal was to surpass $2,000.
“To help families in need, family members that have Alzheimer’s,” said Addison, 12. “My grandfather had Alzheimer’s.”
Bob Van Meer passed away in October 2019.
“Addison is our youngest top fundraiser for Woodstock, she raised $2,220 – that’s phenomenal,” said Shelley Green, Executive Director of the Alzheimer Society of Oxford, noting Addison raised just over $600 in her first year – and Addison’s cousin (Adrianna) also became a 600 Club Member that year. “It’s just incredible that someone this age would take this kind of interest.”
“This is my third year – I’ve raised money every year,” said Addison. “My mom posted it on social media, and she sent emails to family members.”
“She looks forward to it every year, but this year was even more important for her,” said Addison’s mother, Liz Wismer-Van Meer. “I help her with sharing it on social media – she doesn’t have that access. We use that to reach our family and friends. We have some really, really generous donors that give to us every year as well, so that helps. And this year, with my father-in-law passing away we had a lot of family members that really wanted to make a family impact. We were going to set a goal of $1,500 but she said, ‘No, I want to do $2,000.'”
“We were just short of $2,000 last year,” said Addison. “We had $1,900-something.”
Addison is not yet on the Walk for Alzheimer’s fundraising Wall of Fame, recognizing individuals who have raised more than $7,000, but Green is confident Addison will soon be there.
“Not yet, but she’s going to get there soon,” Green smiled.
“She’s working towards that,” laughed Wismer-Van Meer. “She knows about, that’s her goal.”
“It’s not going to take Addison long,” said Green.
“What I think is so amazing is that when kids like Addison choose to do this, they are such an example to youth, and also adults. It’s amazing. It takes a lot of determination.”