'My uncle Bill had dementia and we were all impacted by his journey with the condition so I am going to do this for him'
Donegal teacher Elaine McConnell has been inspired by her late uncle to take on a mighty adventure this week with her beloved pooch Lucy.
St. Johnston’s Elaine McConnell will be pushing herself to the limit as she takes part in a solo 145km three-day ‘Home to Home’ fundraising walk from Belfast to Donegal.
The challenge, which begins this Friday, aims to raise awareness and much-needed funds for The Alzheimer Society of Ireland and the Alzheimer’s Society in Northern Ireland.
Elaine works as a behaviour support teacher in Longstone Special School in Dundonald, Belfast. She will be leaving her home in East Belfast at 7.00am on Friday, 5th July and plans to arrive in her family home for a special barbecue with family and friends in St Johnston, Co Donegal on Sunday evening, 7th July. Her canine companion Lucy will be keeping her company during the cross-border trip.
Dementia is very close to Elaine’s heart and she was inspired to organise this solo adventure by her uncle, Bill McVitty, who lived with dementia for 10 years. Bill was always trying to ‘go home’ which is where the idea of ‘Home to Home’ came from. Bill sadly passed away in May after being cared for at home by his wife, Doreen, for many years.
Elaine now wants to complete the challenging walk in Bill’s memory.
Elaine will be joined by friends and family members at various points along the way and she is encouraging others to follow her progress on social media or make a donation online (click here to donate)
All the money raised will be split evenly between The Alzheimer Society of Ireland and the Alzheimer’s Society in Northern Ireland.
Elaine said: “Dementia is a cause close to the heart of my family and many others. I have witnessed how devastating and heart-breaking this condition can be on a family. My uncle Bill had dementia and we were all impacted by his journey with the condition so I am going to do this for him, his family and everyone else out there who is affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia.
“I am really looking forward to raising awareness and funds for these great charities north and south of the border to show people who are caring for people with dementia in particular that there is support out there and to raise the importance of people talking and seeking help and advice. I also want to highlight the issue of caring for the carer who do so much work and are heroes in our own communities.”
Elaine added: “The generosity and support that I have received so far from family, friends, colleagues and members of the public has been fantastic. Little things like people offering their support, leaving messages, people making donations both large and small and even the offering of services and company during the walk has been absolutely phenomenal. I have been taken aback by the reaction to this walk and the public’s support.”
The teacher has been taken aback by the support that she has received so far – with one hotel, the O’Neill Arms Country House Hotel in Toomebridge in Antrim, offering a free stay for her first night on the road.
Graham/Farrans Construction Joint Venture has gone out of their way to allow Elaine access to the site of their almost completed 7.3km of new A6 dual carriageway that will allow Elaine to walk safely, traffic free from Randalstown to the Toomebridge bypass and Charles Hurst, Belfast have generously donated a minibus for three days to act as a support vehicle that can transport any volunteer walkers back to their cars if they have joined Elaine for a stretch.
The Alzheimer Society of Ireland provides numerous services to help the 2,000 people with dementia and their families in Donegal including Day Care, Social Clubs, Alzheimer Cafes and Home Care and also has an active Donegal Branch Office. Full details on www.alzheimer.ie
Members of the public can make online donation to Elaine HERE.