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Marathon skater calls on Canadians to join his effort to support Alzheimer's societies

Steve McNeil, 58, of Etobicoke hopes to raise funds and awareness for the Alzheimer cause during more than 19 hours of continual skating at an outdoor rink in Charlottetown starting early Tuesday evening. McNeil lost his mother to Alzheimer's disease in 2013. - Jim Day
Steve McNeil of Etobicoke, Ont. is organizing a national event to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer's disease. McNeil, who lost his mother to the disease, has skated for 19 hours and 26 minutes at a time on rinks across Canada to raise funds for the cause. - Jim Day

A marathon skater who visited Charlottetown last winter is seeking plenty of company – from a distance – in skating for a good cause.

Steve McNeil, 59, is a mailman and recreational hockey referee in Etobicoke, Ont. who has been taking to the ice for marathon skates to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s disease.

In the past two years, McNeil has skated for an exhausting 19 hours and 26 minutes on 18 different occasions in cities across Canada. He skated outdoors in Charlottetown in February, receiving enthusiastic local support for his endeavour.

Now he is inviting Canadians across the country to skate for 19 minutes and 26 seconds wherever they live – a considerably more manageable outing than his feats of endurance that serve as a tribute to his mother, who died of Alzheimer’s disease. She was born on Dec. 15, 1926, thus the inspiration for the duration of McNeil’s skates.

McNeil will be skating for the ninth year, this time at the Gretzky Estates Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. He starts at 12:01 a.m. Dec. 15 and skates until 7:26 p.m.

He wants Dec. 15 to be recognized as National 1926 Alzheimer’s Skate Day and is inviting people to skate for 19 minutes and 26 seconds and donate $19.26 or whatever they can to their local Alzheimer Society.  

Steve McNeil, a postal worker and referee from Etobicoke, Ont., says he was touched by the strong community support during his lenghty outdoor skate in Charlottetown to raise money for the Alzheimer's Society of P.E.I. JIM DAY/THE GUARDIAN - SaltWire Network
Steve McNeil, a postal worker and referee from Etobicoke, Ont., says he was touched by the strong community support during his lenghty outdoor skate in Charlottetown to raise money for the Alzheimer's Society of P.E.I. JIM DAY/THE GUARDIAN - SaltWire Network


The fundraising effort is called the 1926 Challenge. McNeil is asking everyone to skate, hike, cycle, cook, walk their dog or do whatever they enjoy, then tell their story and send a photo to his social media listed on his website 1926Skate.com.

He says his 19-hour and 26-minute effort is just one day in his life, but caregivers for people living with dementia spend that much time each day looking after their loved ones.

“COVID-19 has been devastating for seniors and their families," says McNeil. “More and more families are going to need the assistance that their local Alzheimer societies can provide. That’s why this fundraising skate is so important."

#rockinalzheimers

#National1926skateday December 15th 2020 donate to your local Alzheimers society as I skate for 19hrs 26min

Posted by 1926 skate for Alzheimer's on Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Alzheimer societies offer programs and support services for people living with dementia and  their care partners. The funds raised through National 1926 Alzheimer’s Skate Day and the
1926 Challenge will help local Alzheimer societies continue to provide virtual social and recreational programming to those who need help most. 

People are asked to donate $19.26 or more to their local Alzheimer's society or simply lace up their skates and come out to support 1926 Alzheimer’s Skate Day. 

Jim Day is the health reporter for The Guardian.

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