When I decided I wanted to do this walk for dementia awareness in honour of Mum, I thought it would be nice if a few friends joined me for a walk along the river. Maybe we would do a little bit of walking here and there across the month of September, wear a piece of tartan for fun and at a push perhaps I could raise $500. I contacted Jade Radcliffe of Dementia Australia’s fundraising team, and she promptly approved my idea, providing me with the authority to fundraise.
I considered that tartan pieces may be tricky to source, so came up with the idea to have some t-shirts printed featuring my mother’s ‘Gow’ clan tartan. That would be how I could get the $500 in donations, I just needed someone to design a logo. So, I went to my good friend, Mel Carnell of Ubiquitous Designs in Kerang, with two instructions – I wanted it to feature the duo who sing the song 500 Miles (The Proclaimers) in the same style as Life Be In It character ‘Norm’, and I wanted them wearing the Gow tartan kilt. By that afternoon, the design was complete, Every Stitch Counts in Kerang had given me a quote to print them, and I was away. My first order was for seven t-shirts, which then went to 10, then 20 and finally 70 t-shirts! I must have driven Suzette mad with my ever-changing orders! Dementia Australia had set up the fundraising page on Facebook and straight away the running total began to grow. People were registering to join the walk, others were putting together their own teams in other towns, states and countries, and I had the kindest people stopping me in the street and handing me cash to donate to the cause.
Then there was Nicky at Thomas Electrical Barham, who yelled out to me on my way to work one morning and asked me to come into the shop to choose a prize for ‘the raffle’, which at that stage did not exist! The following day, Belinda from Murray Waters Apartments in Koondrook donated an accommodation package, Kylie from Long Paddock Foodstore Koondrook provided me with a voucher for breakfast for two, and Vanessa of Nourish Beauty and Glow Barham gave me a beautiful gift pack for the raffle. All this generosity from a community of just 2,500 people! There had never been a time when I felt as grateful to be living in such a wonderful part of the country.
The majority of people involved in the fundraiser had never met my mum, but so many have been touched by this awful disease or know someone who has, and my appreciation towards those who got on board is immeasurable. We had people registering to walk from Queensland, Ballarat, Mildura and even as far as Scotland!
They say dementia can be a terribly lonely disease, but by talking about it, we are helping to ensure that families don’t need to ride the journey alone.
To my friends, my workmates at The Bridge, Dementia Australia, Murray Haven Homes and this wonderful community, from the bottom of my heart, thank you on behalf of the Bohn and Brand family.
Now, the results:
- Distance walked – 477.40 miles (768.30 kilometres)
- Donations to Dementia Australia (including t-shirt profits) – $3,292
- Raffle donations – $307
This article appeared in The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, 21 September 2023.