Tipperary's Kathy Ryan with Virgin Media Television presenter Deric Ó hArtagáin
Inspirational Tipperary dementia advocate Kathy Ryan and Virgin Media Television presenter Deric Ó hArtagáin are reuniting to take on The Alzheimer Society of Ireland (ASI)’s Camino Adventure to raise funds and public awareness for people with dementia during World Alzheimer’s Month this September.
Cashel's Kathy, who was diagnosed with younger on-set Alzheimer in January 2014 and is vice-chair of the Irish Dementia Working Group (IDWG), and Deric will be leading a 32-strong group of walkers on the 120km eight-day challenge and journey of exploration along the Portuguese Camino from Porto through to Santiago de Compostela from September 14-21.
Kathy, who successfully completed last year’s Camino Adventure with Deric, can’t wait to reunite and describes the upcoming walk as a dream come true. Kathy is eager to show that having a dementia diagnosis is not a barrier to achieving your dreams and that people with dementia can still do the things that others can do. Kathy and Deric are now spreading the can do attitude ahead of their departure from Dublin this Saturday.
The participants on Team ASI are men and women of all ages and everyone has different reasons for taking part, but the one thing everyone has in common is the desire to help families in Ireland living with dementia while taking part in a unique experience.
World Alzheimer’s Month is an opportunity to raise awareness about a health issue that will affect more and more people as the years pass, while encouraging crucial efforts to support those already affected by dementia around the world. World Alzheimer’s Day will be held on Friday, September 21.
“Walking the Camino de Santiago last year was a dream come true for me. When I was diagnosed with dementia in 2014, I thought my chance of doing something like this was over. But thanks to The ASI, I was given the golden opportunity to take on this challenge and carry a banner for all people with dementia on this epic walk, and I just can’t wait to take on the Camino again this year," Kathy says.
"I must also thank my walking partner Deric for putting his heart and soul into this challenge - it means so much to me. He is an incredible guy. I got so much from walking last year’s Camino – it shows that people who receive this awful diagnosis should not give up and should stay active and connected with their community as best they can.
"This is World Alzheimer’s Month and both myself and Deric – and everyone in our group – are looking forward to raising awareness about dementia and how communities around Ireland can be more dementia aware, which means showing basic kindness and respect to people who have dementia and their families and carers in Ireland.”
Virgin Media Television presenter Deric adds: “Following on from a hugely successful Camino in Spain last year, this September I’m delighted to team up with The ASI once again to lead the group on a journey of exploration along the Portuguese Camino from Porto through to Santiago de Compostela. Not only will this be both a physical and mental endurance challenge, but also a spiritual one as we take with us in both our hearts and minds not only all of those who live with the condition, but also their families and carers.
The ASI plays a pivotal role in providing vital care, respite and social services to those in need. All funds raised from our trek will be going directly to assist and support essential supports and services for people with dementia across the charity’s nationwide network of centres. As ambassador, I’m really looking forward to rekindling past friendships, forming new ones and creating memories to last a lifetime.”