You can get a good workout for a great cause when the Memory Walk & Jog comes to Brisbane in May.

The Memory Walk & Jog raises much-needed funds for Alzheimer’s Australia (Qld), which provides invaluable support, education and resources for people living with dementia in Brisbane, including their carers, family and friends.

All Memory Walk & Jog courses are wheelchair accessible, and there will be prizes for the top fundraisers, as well as food stalls, entertainment and raffles to help the event reach its $100,000 target.

Last year, more than 1,000 people took part in the event, which has different distances to choose from depending on your age and fitness level.

Neasher McNamara, an inspirational 14-year-old from Ashgrove, was one of those participants last year, and will be back again this year.

When Neasher was just 11 years old, her grandfather, Dennis, was diagnosed with dementia after he went missing and was eventually found sleeping in a stranger’s garage.

Neasher published her own book, 1 Word 6 Letters, to show her support for her grandfather, raising over $800 for people living with dementia in the process.

Still determined to make a difference, she rounded up a group of friends to take part in the Memory Walk & Jog.

“I thought it was awesome; I loved it,” she says.

“I explained to my friends why I was doing this and everyone was really supportive, and this year I hope to get an even bigger team together and fundraise for other families like my own who have been affected by dementia.”

When Neasher’s grandfather was diagnosed, she had no idea just how widespread the disease is in Australia. An estimated 413,106 people have dementia in Australia, with that number projected to reach more than half a million by 2030.

“I didn’t really know much about dementia when Poppy was first diagnosed — all I knew was that it affected your memory, but I didn’t understand how serious it was.

“I always thought that it only affected a tiny group of people and to see how many families it actually affects by going along to Memory Walk & Jog was quite amazing.”

Neasher McNamara

Image: Neasher McNamara

Neasher says she remembers her grandfather as a funny and loving man. But two years on from his diagnosis, it’s getting harder to preserve that memory.

“He was funny and always had a joke,” she says.

“He used to go into Nanna’s purse and take loose change. Nanna was never happy with that. The last time he had a joke with us was the first Father’s Day in his nursing home where he said ‘give us your purse’ as a bit of a joke.

“He is pretty quiet now and I don’t really like seeing him because he just keeps getting worse.

“I’d like to remember Poppy how he was. Nanna still goes up to visit him every other day.”

Neasher doesn’t just support Alzheimer’s Australia (Qld) for the services they offer her grandfather — she’s also got her sights set on the future, and the research needed to improve it.

“If I can’t get a cure for him,” she says, “then I don’t want other families going through the same thing.”

The Memory Walk & Jog will be held the University of Queensland’s St Lucia campus on Sunday 28 May. The first 500 people to register will receive a free Memory Walk & Jog t-shirt! For more info, head to memorywalk.com.au/qld.

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