Unique skating session designed to create awareness around Alzheimer’s disease

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Steve McNeil for nearly a decade has traveled the country in honor of his mother and in one-of-a-kind fashion created awareness and raised funds to help others cope with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia issues.


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The 60-year-old Canada Post worker from the Toronto area at each stop performs a marathon skating session of 19 hours and 26 minutes in honor of his mother Eunice McNeil and the year of her birth.

On Saturday, starting at midnight, McNeil took to the ice in downtown Windsor at Charles Clark Square where he remained gliding around the rink until just before 7:30 pm on Saturday evening.

This city marked McNeil’s 32nd community across Canada where he has stepped on to the ice for a marathon skate to raise funds for local programs and services dealing with the disease — in this case Alzheimer Society of Windsor & Essex County.

“This is my fourth skate in just over a week,” McNeil said. “I was in Petawawa, Gretzky’s winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake and Bracebridge. It was minus 35C and 40C in those places. This is like Florida out here (in Windsor) for me today. I feel pretty amazing.”


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McNeil, often on the ice as a long-time hockey referee, first began skating long sessions privately in late 2012 as a distraction from his mother’s struggles with Alzheimer’s disease which was in its final stages after just over a decade of being first diagnosed.

With the encouragement of family and friends, he decided shortly after her death in early 2013 to convert his sessions into an awareness and fundraising campaign — initially just in the Toronto area, then expanding across Ontario and Canada.

Over the last couple years, due to COVID-19 he is back limiting his efforts solely to communities in Ontario.

“It just seems to get bigger each time I do it,” he said. “My goal through skating is to highlight some of the programs and services for Alzheimer’s in each community. This has really been able to catch people’s attention.”


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As with many of his stops, as occurred in Windsor, a number of people join McNeil on the ice at midnight to launch his marathon skate. By about 2 am, most are gone and for the next several hours he finds himself alone on the ice which he describes as always being the most difficult of each session.

“By about 7 am, you start to see family and kids start coming out to skate with me,” he said.

Around noon, there were about 30 others on the ice at Charles Clark Square skating with McNeil. Others to stop by included members of the Windsor Spitfires and University of Windsor Lancer hockey teams.

“You are really lucky in Windsor to have this,” he said of the rink. “It’s big and spacious. This is a jewel.”

Locally, it is projected this year there will be 8,310 people living in Windsor & Essex County over the age of 40 with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.


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“It’s just amazing that someone would take the time to do this,” said Peggy Winch, manager of fund development and community engagement for the local Alzheimer’s society. “Having the support of someone like Steve to help bring awareness to our local programs and services means so much to us.

“I think it’s amazing on why he has been doing this and honoring his mom. It takes a special person to do a marathon event like this and then remain so dedicated for 10 years doing this.”

McNeil’s website is www.1926Skate.com where information about his skate and donation links to the Alzheimer’s society for each community can be found. To learn more about services of the Alzheimer Society of Windsor & Essex County or to donate directly call 519-974-2220 or visit online at alzheimer.ca/windsoressex.


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