It’s not often that a twenty-year old has much appreciation for what Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia is all about, let alone even thinks about it. However, Kingston Frontenacs hockey defenseman Liam Murray is all too familiar with the disease and he is determined to create awareness about Alzheimers during his hockey season here in Kingston.
Liam’s grandfather was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 68 and Liam understands the impact that the disease has had, not only on his grandfather, but on his family as well. He knows that it’s been a tough go for his parents, and for his younger sibling who still lives at home. He knows, because it’s been hard on him too, to see the toll the disease has taken on his grandfather, with whom he is incredibly close. Liam lived with his grandparents for several years and back then there was no sign of the memory loss or aggressive behaviour, loss of interest in activities, social isolation or even caregiver stress that he sees now when he visits his Grandfather at his nursing home. Living in Kingston, there isn’t much that he can do to help except when he goes home to visit, but he can do something to help others wherever he finds himself, and this year, he is determined to do just that.
November will see the launch of an Alzheimer’s Awareness campaign Liam has called the “Liam Murray Remembers” in honour of his Grandfather. And with the help of his team-mates and Frontenacs management, Liam has plans to put Alzheimer’s Disease at ‘centre ice’ this season. He will become a Youth Ambassador for the Alzheimer Society of KFL&A, and is happy to share his own experience with the disease at education sessions, school visits and other Society activities. In addition, Liam will volunteer his time working with clients in the drop- in programs throughout the year when his hockey schedule permits.
To kick off the awareness campaign, Findlay Foods has donated two tickets for each home game during the season, to be given to clients and/or volunteers of the local Alzheimer Society, so that they can enjoy an occasional home game. Social isolation and financial burden are two common ways that clients and their caregivers may be impacted by the disease, so having an opportunity for a free outing in the community will be a welcome one for the recipients of the tickets.
Other activities will take place over the next few months including special recognition of the disease and the work of the Society, to be given at a home game during Alzheimer’s Awareness month in January. The game will be followed by a skate with the Fronts team members and hosted by the Alzheimer Society. Liam and his team-mates will also participate in an educational session about Alzheimers this season, so that they will also have some more in-depth knowledge of the disease.
Fronts management understands that dementia is a growing issue and that it is impacting many people at a younger age, including youth Liam’s age who are experiencing it with their grandparents and in some cases, even with their own parents.
Fronts Head Coach Jay Varady says that “anything the team can do to support Liam in his awareness campaign is a good use of their time, to help bring awareness to this terrible disease and help to further the goals of the society, to enhance the lives of those living with a diagnosis, and of those impacted by it.”
Any group interested in having a workshop at their school or place of work, and having Liam attend as the Youth Ambassador, please call the Alzheimer Society of KFL&A at 613-544-3078. Workshops are scheduled based on availability and on Liam’s hockey schedule.