Monday, 07 May 2012
Auckland woman, Christine Hobbs, is organising a rowing marathon on the Waikato River to honour her hero – her father Ray. He lives in Rotorua, near family but in a secure care facility because of his advanced Alzheimer’s disease. As a former councillor and Mayor of Rotorua, Ray spent many years contributing to his city and community and providing for his extended family was always top-of-mind.
“This project started after a visit I made to Dad at the Rest Home where he lives. I always come back to Auckland pretty sad about his condition. Being out on the river at dawn is a powerful place, and it occurred to me that there’s a lot about it that Dad would have loved. He was never a rower but he worked outdoors, was a natural environmentalist (not a greenie!) and stayed physically active as long as he was able. I think he truly believed in the power of communities and the responsibility we all have to play an active part in them,” says Mrs Hobbs.
The long-distance row developed quickly as an idea that is engaging a lot of interest and support. The row starts in Cambridge on Friday May 25th and over 3 days travels 141 km along the Waikato River as far as Port Waikato. Various members of rowing clubs around the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Auckland regions are taking part, as are some kayakers.
Mrs Hobbs hopes some waka ama from the various Marae along the river will join the contingent for some of the way. The group of rowers and supporters will also make a visit to Turangawaewae Marae.
“Dad took everyone at face value, respected New Zealand’s history and cultural mix and was an employer of equality. Somehow the Waikato River, crossing farmland and small communities, the flow to the sea and the sense of liberation, seems like a good place to honour Dad and many others with this disease. It troubles me that the perception of dementia is that it’s an old person’s disease. It really isn’t – and we all need to be aware of the increase in people being diagnosed”.
Funds raised will be put towards Alzheimer’s Rotorua which will allow their services to be extended to more families and Alzheimers New Zealand, to help spread awareness and advocate for all people with dementia in New Zealand. Anyone wanting to contribute or take part can contact Christine at firstname.lastname@example.org or check it out here for more details.
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