Forget Me Not

#WhyIWalk – The 2017 Walk for Alzheimers

A special blog post written by Little Voice’s author Amanda Bernardo in support of Little Voice’s 2017 Walk for Alzheimers. 

I can’t tell you how much it means to me to be involved with the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County. I have accomplished a lot in my life thus far, but there is no joy or pride greater than my efforts in supporting and creating awareness for Alzheimer’s disease.  – Amanda Bernardo

When I was eleven years old, my grandmother travelled from Italy to Canada for the very first time. It was at the tender age of eleven that I also learned about Alzheimer’s disease for the very first time.

My grandmother, Teresina Bernardo, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1995 and at the age of sixty-six. A few years later, she came to Canada for the very first time. At this early stage in the disease, the signs were evident but not alarming. I remember her often repeating the same questions over and over again but I was still too young to understand the full impacts of the disease. It wasn’t until our own trips back to Italy that I began to see how much this disease could deteriorate someone.

A lot of children grow up fearing spiders or heights, but from a young age I feared what could one day be my own inevitable fate.

As the years passed, I slowly lost my grandmother. The disease began as a form of forgetfulness but evolved into something no words can describe. My grandmother is now eighty-eight years old and has been “living” with this disease for over 20 years. Now, in the late stages of this disease, she is no longer able to communicate or look after herself. Living oceans apart from one another, Alzheimer’s disease ultimately stripped me from a relationship with my grandmother.

I’ve known Alzheimer’s disease for a very long time and truthfully, for many years, I wasn’t able to talk about my experiences, or my fears, without tears falling from my face. Even today, I still struggle to share my story but I realized a long time ago that without talking about this disease, without fundraising behind it, without supporting the men and women who volunteer day in and day out to make a difference, nothing would change.

I only wish I was able to share this with my grandmother but I know deep down inside she is proud of me and all that I have accomplished in her name.

I truly appreciate the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County’s recognition of my efforts; I will forever be a part of this lifelong fight for a cure and will continue to support organizations like this that do wonders to support the families affected by this disease.

Being a part of this movement and community is something I will truly cherish forever. 

I hope you will  join us on Saturday, May 13, 2017 as we walk for all those in our community, our country and the world who continue to battle with Alzheimer’s disease, for the families who become full-time caregivers, and to the Alzheimer Society who continues to offer programs and services that help to make a difference in the lives of all those affected by this disease.

Together, we can make a difference.

Sign-up or donate today.

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Looking Back on 2016

We can’t believe another year has come and gone.

2016 has been an amazing year for Little Voice and we couldn’t have done it without you!

Each year, Little Voice sets a number of goals that will enable us to plan for the future and make a difference in our community! This past year, Little Voice aimed to increase our outreach, launch our movement, and increase our donations to the Alzheimer Society of Canada. Here’s a look back at 2016 and how we managed to reach our goals:

Outreach

Thanks to our community, Little Voice was able to increase our outreach efforts through a number of media outlets:

We were also able to meet many more of our readers at a number of our local Indigo, Chapters and Coles events:

Meeting our readers in person has always been a great opportunity for us to answer your questions and see the impact our book has had in your homes and schools. We hope to put on many more events this upcoming year and to meet many more of you at our local events.

The Little Voice Movement

This past Summer, Little Voice launched our official movement. The movement was our way to give back, not only to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, but to all those searching for a way to fundraise in their communities.

Thanks to CTV and Upfront Ottawa, we were able to share our movement with all of you:

By registering to become an Little Voice Ambassador, you can create your own inspirational movement in your community. Whether you choose to support your school, an important cause, or your future, Little Voice will donate $5 dollars from every book sale you’ve made to support your movement.

You can learn more about our movement on our website and sign-up today … for free!

The Forget Me Not Project

Every year, since publishing Little Voice, we have challenged ourselves to grow our donations to the Alzheimer Society of Canada through the Forget Me Not Project. By participating in the Walk for Alzheimers, Little Voice has been able to work with our local Alzheimer Society chapter and with YOU to fundraise in support of Alzheimer’s research, programs and services! This past year, through your generosity, Little Voice was able to raise $1, 875 dollars.

Little Voice was also very proud to put on the Dream Big Dream, Girl Luncheon that successfully raised $2,000 dollars in support of the Alzheimer Society. Together, we were able to not only get together and feel inspired, but we were also able to empower the next generation of dreamers to make a difference in their own communities.

A BIG thank you to all those who attended and to our guest speakers, sponsors and the Dream, Girl film, which made the event possible!

The New Year is an amazing opportunity to look back on all the little moments that made up the sum of our entire year. It’s a chance to be grateful for all the positivity that came in to your life, to examine where you can grow, and to challenge yourself to reach new heights in the year ahead.

For Little Voice, a new year is an opportunity for us to set new goals that will allow us to reach more readers and support many more causes. It’s an opportunity to say thank you for believing in our message and vision and sharing our book with your students, children, family and friends.

But more importantly, it is a perfect reminder for each and every one of us to listen to our little voice and to not let another year go by where we ignore it.

We wish you all a very Happy New Year and cannot wait to share what we have planned for 2017 with all of you!

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September is World Alzheimer’s Month

September 2016 will mark the fifth global World Alzheimer’s Month™, an international campaign to raise awareness and challenge stigma.

The theme for World Alzheimer’s Month 2016 is Remember Me. To help raise awareness, the campaign is asking you to get involved by sharing your favourite memories, or memories of a loved one, on social media this September with the hashtags #RememberMe #WAM2016.

As most of you know, the Little Voice Forget Me Not Project was started in honour of Amanda Bernardo’s grandmother Teresina Bernardo who has been suffering with Alzheimer’s disease for over twenty years. More recently, however, Amanda’s other grandmother – Maria Bruni – has been showing early signs of dementia, and is suspected of also being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s never easy to learn that someone you love is going through something that neither of you quite understand. They are confused because they see a shift in their behaviour and their memory; and you are confused because you simply don’t know where to start. Then they often grow angry because they are overwhelmed with the changes they are experiencing; and even you grow angry because you can’t seem to find an answer as to why this disease has taken your loved one. Then reality kicks in, and you see that Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t just strip away your loved one’s memories but it changes everything. It changes how your loved one interacts with you; how they perceive the world; how they function on a day to day basis; and how they maintain their relationships around them. As someone with Alzheimer’s disease on both sides of my family, the reality for me is that I am terrified. I am terrified that Alzheimer’s disease will now strip me from another relationship with someone I love. I am terrified that we don’t know what causes Alzheimer’s disease. And I am terrified that we still don’t have a cure. But I am also even more terrified that my chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease now seem more likely than not. It’s hard to imagine that at such a young age but it’s a terrifying reality that affects all those who could possibly inherit this disease. This is why I am urging you this September to help raise awareness and support your local Alzheimer Society. – Amanda Bernardo

In Canada, an estimated 747,000 Canadians have Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. Over 70,000 of them are under 65 and approximately 50,000 are under the age of 60. 1 in 11 Canadians over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. In just 5 years, as much as 50% more Canadians and their families could be facing Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. Within a generation, the number of Canadians with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, will more than double, ranging between 1 and 1.3 million people.

I am grateful for the memories I have with both my grandmothers. My grandmother Teresina reminds me a lot of myself. She had this strength about her that was always admirable. She did a lot in her life time and it makes me sad to think that in her old age she cannot look back and enjoy how far she has come. Now, to think that my other grandmother here in Canada will be diagnosed with this disease breaks my heart. I grew up with my nonna Maria; all my childhood memories had her in them. I always remember her sneaking Hershey chocolate bars to us before we would leave her house. And her hugs. She gives the best hugs. I hope that never changes.

This September, please make a difference with your social media and ask the world to not only remember Teresina Bernardo and Maria Bruni, but all those struggling with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. #RememberMe

To support the Alzheimer Society of Canada, please donate here.

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What it means to Dream BIG

Where to begin… 

It seems like just yesterday, I came across a Kickstarter campaign for a film that shared a message much like my own. This message encourages children, and adults alike, to believe in themselves and their dreams! After watching the trailer for the Dream, Girl film,  I saw myself and the journey I had taken with Little Voice in the stories of the women featured in this film. I saw my struggles, my fears, my determination and that same little voice that once inspired me to write a children’s book, inspire others to do extraordinary things too!

On the morning of June 5th, the Dream Big Dream, Girl Luncheon, I asked myself how I got here. How did watching a trailer to a documentary, produced by two women I didn’t really know, turn into me putting on an event for over 140 women. The short answer: inspiration. The longer answer: when an idea gets in my head, I run with it, and that’s exactly what led me to put on this inspirational luncheon.

I didn’t really know what to expect going into this. Would people be interested? Would people attend? Would they be as inspired as I hoped they would?

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2016 #WalkForAlzheimers

For the second year in a row, Little Voice was extremely excited to participate in the #WalkForAlzheimers in support of the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County!

This year, not only did we fundraise for this important cause, but we also worked closely with the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa as part of the organizing committee behind this event! We were blessed to work with such amazing people, hear from so many who are affected by this disease, and ultimately contribute to a successful walk!

The #WalkForAlzheimer’s raised $370,329.00 dollars, had 130 teams and over 1000 walkers!

WebsiteBanner-ENG-Walk4Alzheimers

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Little Voice is doubling their donations!

April Promo

Did you know that a portion of each book sale is donated in support of the Alzheimer Society of Canada? Since December 2014, Little Voice has donated over $3000 dollars!

As many of you know, Little Voice is currently supporting the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County ‪#‎WalkForAlzheimers‬, and so we wanted to go one step further in supporting our team’s efforts!

From now until May 7, Little Voice will be donating $5 from each book sale in support of the #WalkForAlzheimers – this being in addition to our regular donations to the Alzheimer Society of Canada! That’s right, for one month, we’ll be doubling our donation efforts!

Order your copy of Little Voice today OR donate directly to our team’s walk – we thank you in advance for your kind and generous support!

WebsiteBanner-ENG-Walk4Alzheimers

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Help Little Voice Surpass Our #WalkForAlzheimers Fundraising Goal

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A message from Little Voice’s author, Amanda Bernardo

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Introducing our Latest Dream, Girl – Tammy Laverty

With our countdown now underway to the Dream Big Dream, Girl Inspirational Luncheon, we are thrilled to announce the newest member of our team:

Tammy Laverty

“I am very excited to add another inspiring woman from our community to the Dream Big Dream, Girl roster. It goes without saying that there are so many women within Ottawa, and around the world, who do amazing things each and every day! I am thankful that this event will be able to bring together some of these women in order to inspire the next generation!” – Amanda Bernardo

Tammy

Tammy will not only be introducing our opening guest speaker Peggy Taillon, but will also be sharing with us her own personal journey with Alzheimer’s disease.

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An Open Letter in Support of the Dream Big Dream, Girl Inspirational Luncheon

Hello,

My name is Amanda Bernardo and I am a local Ottawa author and advocate for both the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa/Renfrew County and Canada.Two years ago, I set out to write
a story I hoped would inspire all those who would read it. Along the way, I realized I was also creating a platform where I could create real change in my community and in the lives of
all those my story would touch.

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In creating this platform, I began promoting a positive movement that would inspire people to listen to their little voice; a voice that would encourage them to be proud of who they are and capable of accomplishing anything! I began working closely with local schools and
organizations, such as CHEO, the Boys and Girls Club and the Proud to be Me Foundation, by donating books and providing inspirational talks.

In sharing my story, I also knew early on that I wanted to tell a story that I felt was not told
nearly enough. This story, unlike my own, is one where our little voice is forgotten, where the memories that make up the sum of our life story are stripped away and the loved ones that are left behind are suddenly strangers. This is a story that we refer to now a day as Alzheimer’s disease. In my attempt to tell this story, I created the Little Voice Forget Me Not Project;
a project that donates a portion of every book sale to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, a cause I hold extremely dear to my heart and have pursued in honour of my grandmother.

As a passionate volunteer in my community, I wanted my movement to not only teach
kids about themselves but also about the importance of giving back and helping others, whatever the cause may be. 

This upcoming June, I am hosting an event that will promote each of these stories, with a
special focus on inspiring women and young girls in our community. The event is a special screening of the soon to be released film “Dream, Girl”, a documentary whose producer comes from our very own nation’s capital. The film’s mission is to share the stories of amazing female entrepreneurs, from brand new startups to million dollar industries, in order to inspire the next generation of leaders. Proceeds from this event will also go towards supporting the 2016 #WalkForAlzheimers!

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The film’s world premiere will be this May in New York City, with special screenings that will
follow shortly after in Canada and the United States. When I first watched the “Dream, Girl”
trailer, I knew I wanted to be part of this movement and share this inspirational message
with others. The film brings to light the importance of teaching young girls and women
that they too can become leaders:

“Any person, male or female, could be a leader. Anyone is capable, it just so happen
for us [women] it’s more complicated. I hope for us this is the generation that changes because I think that it’s time for change.”

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2T4j1aTa4A%5B/embedyt%5D

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Walk for Memories 2016

Little Voice is extremely excited to announce that we will be walking our second walk in support of the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County this upcoming May! 

Not only will Amanda and Samantha be registering a team for this amazing event; they are also very excited to be on this year’s planning committee!

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Little Voice is hoping to raise $1,000+ in honour of Teresina Bernardo! If you would like to donate to our walk, or if you’d like to join our team, please follow the link below! 

Thank you in advance for your generosity and support!

Click here to join our team or donate to our walk!

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