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'It fills me with hope': Why the Memory Walk & Jog is a tradition for one family living with dementia

Colin Munro taking part in Dementia Australia's annual Memory Walk & Jog.

This is sponsored content for Dementia Australia.

Creating and celebrating family traditions has always been something very special for Colin and Jeanette Munro, their children and now their grandchildren.

One more valued tradition has been added to their calendar since Colin was diagnosed with dementia eleven years ago - Dementia Australia's annual Memory Walk & Jog events that are held in communities around Australia.

Around 15 to 20 of the local couple's extended family and friends get together to take part in the event each year to lend their support to the cause that has become so much a part of their lives.

"We've always loved family traditions, whether it's Christmas, Easter, birthdays, we have special traditions for each one and carry them on year after year," said Jeanette. "These celebrations have always held a special place for Colin and I and it's lovely to see the grandkids getting excited about them too.

"We've loved creating a new family tradition of going to Memory Walk & Jog to support not only Colin but anyone who is touched by dementia because we know firsthand the heartbreaking journey.

"The day also fills me with hope that so many in the community are standing beside us, and that one day in the future we might have a breakthrough and find a cure."

Family tradition: Colin with his children and grandchildren at Memory Walk & Jog.

An active man who was always passionate about sport, Colin was diagnosed with dementia in 2011 after the family noticed he was struggling with his short-term memory. Today, he still has his long-term memory but is lost when it comes to remembering things that happened this week.

"If you ask him about something from eleven years ago he would remember but if you ask anything more recent he would not know," said Jeanette.

"Watching your husband and best friend who was once an active man who loved to play golf, go fishing, spend days in the garden, spend time with family, and crack jokes, disappear is a heartbreaking journey."

Colin had played sport up until his 40s and was also actively involved in council meetings for recreational and environmental issues. Even when he could no longer play sport he loved to watch his grandchildren play on the weekend.

"He had a great saying that he would always tell the grandkids, 'No matter whether you win or lose it's how you play the game'," said Jeanette.

"To go from this to someone who doesn't do anything, doesn't know where he is, can't have discussions like he used to, feels like you have lost your partner and best friend."

Memory Walk & Jog is Dementia Australia's largest fundraising initiative and raises much-needed funds to help provide support, education and resources for people living with dementia in Australia, their carers, families and friends.

In 2022 there are an estimated 487,500 Australians living with dementia, and almost 1.6 million people involved in their care. It's the second leading cause of death of Australians, and the leading cause of death of Australian women.

Without a medical breakthrough the number of Australians with dementia is expected to increase to almost 1.1 million by 2058.

As well as raising vital funds, each Memory Walk & Jog is a time for families touched by dementia to meet others going through the same experiences and share stories.

It also puts the focus on the great benefits of exercise and fitness for brain health as well as physical health.

For Colin and his family, the Memory Walk & Jog event has created some cherished happy memories.

"For our family this is such a fun day to go to," said Jeanette. "It brings us all together to talk, be happy and catch up with friends who we haven't seen in ages. And it gives Colin a chance to be outside and active again."

Get together, create a team, get active and help beat dementia. Registration is now open for this year's Bendigo Memory Walk & Jog that's happening on Saturday April 2 from 8am at the Botanic Gardens. Clock up your kilometres as you enjoy a great day out in the park that's rich in history as one of Victoria's earliest botanic gardens. Get all the details here.

This is sponsored content for Dementia Australia.