My Alzheimer’s story may have already been told, you might already know it’s a disease that has affected my mother and grandfather. You may already know it changed my family beyond anything I was prepared for, all before turning 20.
One thing that might not be overly clear is how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to be a part of Memory Ball, and how appreciative I am of the ability to give back to the Alzheimer Society of Toronto. Memory Ball has provided me with countless opportunities for personal growth and therapy. I will be forever grateful to the original girls (O.G.’s) for their belief and action. The first years were spent debating how we could become fundraisers when we had no experience and no financial backing. We had nothing to go on; other than the passion for the cause, and the desire to do something to help those affected by Alzheimer’s in our community.
Grabbing a coffee with Kathryn Fudurich for the first time in 2011 was one of the most life-changing Starbucks experiences of my life. Without her massive heart, and echoing everything I was feeling in losing her mother (and grandfather) in this way – there is no way we would be where we are. Kat proved to be to be our voice, she reminds me of working with my mum, her mentor – and continues to manage all elements of our MarComm. Meg is basically the event planner you wish you could afford, meticulous, detail oriented, and calm – always calm. Lauren provided the link to all the girls, she was the physical home for every meeting until 2014, and she kept us laughing (while managing all our dollars). Lastly, we had a professional fundraiser before she even knew she was, in Cristina – managing relationships with donors and the society, while keeping everything on track. In short, truly the best group of people to start a venture with you could ever imagine.
The creation of this event and the strength of these relationships beginning in 2011 is something for which I am truly grateful. It was regular meetings with amazing and inspiring people, who knew what I was going through and were willing to do something about it.
When facing this disease, your support system is essential. If I had not been involved with Memory Ball, I fear my family and friends would have had a very different (unpleasant) Carolyn to deal with. Memory Ball, became my support, my positive outlet, and my opportunity to help someone (hopefully) when I was feeling hopeless. With a degenerative terminal illness, like this one, you need to talk about it. You need to find your support system, whether that is a formal support group at the Alzheimer Society, or if it’s a group of friends (and 1 little sister) who are all in the same boat and find something funny in the day to day of this disease, a support system is the only way to keep moving forward.
Now in our 6th year, I truly cannot believe how much has grown and changed. We’ve added so many talented people over the years, and don’t think you could find a better group of fundraisers than our current team. Without listing off everyone’s attributes, which I am happy to do, Ali, Mary, Victoria, Tom, Laura, Erin, Lauren, Emma, Katie, Kathleen, Aryn, Amanda, Sam, Hannah, Lisa, Victoria, Ari and of course Claire Bear…you all add so much to this event. There is no formal hierarchy, we all work together. I am ashamed to say we had arguments in the early days, over who wanted to do more work (answer: we all did, we all wanted to do more than we were). That mentality and all hands on deck approach has created one of the best millennial events in the city, if not the best.
On April 1, 2017, I look forward to showing 600 people at Palais Royale what this year’s team has been up to. Not to give anything away, but this year is going to be the best yet… it really keeps getting better. I can guarantee you will experience #FOMO if you are not there.
So to all those involved, those who have attended, helped check in guests, shared our story, secured a raffle prize, or listened to me boast about this team, these young men and women or this really amazing event – thank you. You’ve helped me through this battle, and for that, I will keep fighting to #endAlzheimers.