When Collingwood Football Club’s star half forward Ben Crocker’s father Paul was diagnosed with younger onset dementia in late 2014 aged just 59, it had a life changing impact on the whole family.
And now his personal connection has led Ben to sign up as Dementia Australia’s latest Ambassador, fuelled by a desire to assist in raising awareness about the condition in the community.
Paul, Sam, Vicki and Ben Crocker
In his new role Ben will quite literally hit the ground running, with his first official outing as Dementia Australia Ambassador at the Melbourne Memory Walk & Jog at Westerfolds Park, Templestowe on Sunday 22 April.
The event challenges attendees to participate in a 5km walk, 5km run or 10km run to raise awareness and vital funds to support people impacted by dementia.
Ben said his family is right behind him, and that together they are willing to share their experience to help others in similar circumstances.
“Everybody at the club was stunned to hear that someone could be diagnosed with dementia while still in their 50s, and that proved to me how important it is to increase awareness and understanding of the condition in the community,” Ben said.
“My teammates at Collingwood have been so supportive of me and my family. It has really made a difference in helping us to best enable Dad to stay at home and remain engaged with his family – that is so important to him and all of us.”
Dementia Australia Regional Director Victoria, Leanne Emerson said the support that Ben is offering to Dementia Australia is invaluable.
“We are honoured that Ben and his family are willing to share their personal experience to support the role of Dementia Australia as the national peak body for people of all ages, living with all forms of dementia, their families and carers,” Ms Emerson said.
“Currently there is estimated to be more than 425,000 Australians living with dementia and funds raised by the Memory Walk & Jog events largely contribute to ensuring Dementia Australia can continue to provide advocacy, support services, education and information.
“Ben’s presence at our Memory Walk & Jog event will no doubt have a positive impact on its success and we thank him for his commitment to supporting the Victorian community and making a difference to the lives of people living with dementia.”
The Memory Walk & Jog is Dementia Australia’s largest community awareness and fundraising event. This year, ten events are being held nationwide, raising much needed funds to support the delivery of vital services and programs.
Opal Aged Care is the major sponsor of the 2018 Memory Walk & Jog series. Registrations are welcomed on the day from 7.00am or can be made on the Memory Walk & Jog website www.memorywalk.com.au.