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"Everyone has a voice deep down inside them, a voice that says “shine”. Some have loud voices, while some have quiet ones. Some people’s voice is so quiet they never get to hear it, while those that do may choose not to listen. Unfortunately, only a few decide to act on this voice, the stars who influence others to listen themselves."
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alzheimers disease

#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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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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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 Evening with the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa & Renfrew County

Since Little Voice first set out to share its story, it has also set out to fundraise behind a cause extremely close to their heart…

Little Voice was very excited to meet with the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County this past week to learn more about the organization’s team and how they use donations to support a variety of programs and initiatives.

alzheimer event

“I am so honoured to work with the Alzheimer’s Society and to be able to use the Little Voice platform as a means of creating a positive impact in my community, specifically with those living with Alzheimer’s disease or a form of related dementia. I know my grandmother would be extremely proud of me if she were able to comprehend all that I am doing in her name.” – Amanda Bernardo, author of Little Voice

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Our first $500

The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease affects men and women of all races, religions and socio-economic backgrounds. It is not a normal part of aging and no one is immune.

Alzheimer’s disease holds a very personal connection to Little Voice’s author Amanda Bernardo. Her grandmother, Teresina Bernardo, has been struggling with the disease for over twenty years.

When Amanda first set out to write Little Voice, she knew she wanted to give back. Her partner and illustrator on the project, Samantha Clusiau-Lawler, couldn’t have agreed more with Amanda’s decision to support the Alzheimer Society of Canada.

Together, they started the Little Voice Forget Me Not Project!

The Little Voice Forget Me Not Project donates a portion of each book sale in support of the Alzheimer Society of Canada!

The reality is that an estimated 500,000 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.

Today, Little Voice is extremely happy to donate our first $500 in honour of Author Amanda Bernardo’s grandmother Teresina Bernardo – the first $500 of many!

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2015 Walk for Memories

The Alzheimer Society Walk for Memories is a province-wide event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and education. Held annually in more than 65 communities across Ontario, this inspiring event calls on participants of all ages and abilities to help support people living with dementia.

Author Amanda and Illustrator Samantha joined hundreds of others in this year’s
2015 Walk for Memories!

"Cause I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more!"
“Cause I would walk 500 miles and                     I would walk 500 more!”

With your help, the Little Voice Forget Me Not Team was able to raise $564 dollars in support of the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County!

Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County

I was so honoured today to walk for my grandmother, Teresina Bernardo. She was 67 years old when she was officially diagnosed with this disease. Having lived with Alzheimer’s for over 19 years, she now finds herself in the final and more difficult stages of this disease.

Teresina Bernardo, grandmother to Author Amanda Bernardo.
Teresina Bernardo, grandmother to Author Amanda Bernardo.

The topic of Alzheimer’s has always been an emotional one in my family. It would be difficult for any family living with this disease to describe it. However, I recently read an article that truly took the words right out of my mouth; the article read: “The more I lose my mom to Alzheimer’s, the more I experience how painful it is to miss someone who is sitting right in front of you.” That’s just it, typically when we lose someone we have a chance to say goodbye, to mourn and to heal. Yet, with Alzheimer’s you don’t really get that. You say goodbye after each conversation and watch as this disease slowly strips you away from your loved one’s memories. You see someone you love disappear even though they are standing right in front of you.

Today, for the first time, I was surrounded by so many others who understood what it meant to live with Alzheimer’s disease. To see so many people together in one room, fighting for the same cause, was truly inspirational and I am truly truly honoured to have been a part of this initiative. Being part of today’s event gave me hope for a better tomorrow. It inspired me to continue fundraising, advocating and doing whatever I can to help bring awareness to this disease and the funding needed to finally find a cure!

This was my first year walking, but it most definitely won’t be my last!

– Amanda Bernardo, Author

Author Amanda & Illustrator Samantha Walking the 2015 Walk for Memories!
Author Amanda & Illustrator Samantha Walking the 2015 Walk for Memories!

Today was a reminder of how Alzheimer’s disease has touched the lives of so many people. When I saw such a big community of people come together to walk, I was overjoyed with their positive spirits and hopes that someday, with much fundraising, we will find a cure!

Walking alongside Amanda today was truly wonderful. Ever since we launched Little Voice she has wanted to give back in some way or another to our community. I was 100% on board when she chose to help the Alzheimer’s Society. I knew why Amanda chose to donate to this cause, but today I was fortunate to have Amanda share with me her grandmother’s story. I am so proud to join her on this journey with Little Voice to now support this community we are so thankful to be a part of!

I look forward to walking many more kilometres in support of this amazing cause and I encourage you all to donate if possible or join us on our walk
next year!

  – Samantha Clusiau-Lawlor, Illustrator

Amanda and Samantha circled the track 25 times and walked a total of 5 kilometres!

The Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County had over 600 walkers present, with 82 teams and … drum roll please … raised

$253, 000 DOLLARS!

A BIG thank you again to all those who donated!

Little Voice and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson
Little Voice and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson

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