Canadian hockey ref Steve McNeil’s mission to raise money for Alzheimer’s research is not your typical fundraiser. The Toronto native has visited each of Canada’s NHL cities and skated for 19 hours and 26 minutes to honour his mother, who had the neurological disease. She was born in 1926.
One of McNeil’s favourite bands is supporting his charity drive. Australian rock band AC/DC lost guitarist Malcolm Young from dementia in 2017 at the age of 64. Alzheimer’s disease is one type of dementia. The Youngs, including Malcolm’s wife, have also known others in their lives who battled the disease.
Young’s younger brother, band co-founder Angus Young, has donated $19,260 to the Alzheimer Society of Ontario, reports CBC. The funds will be dispersed to dementia music therapy programs.
“It’s funny how things work in the world, but rock-and-roll is such a powerful tool,” McNeil told CBC. “This is AC/DC. This could open so many doors.”
AC/DC’s music has helped McNeil plow through his marathon skating events. He was known to blast their songs while skating during freezing cold nights.
His nearly 20-hour skating events also paid homage to the amount of time caregivers, including family members, spend taking care of people with Alzheimer’s.
McNeil completed the finale of his seven-city skate at the Forks Arctic Glacier and the Red River Mutual Trail in Winnipeg on Thursday, Feb. 21.
“Life’s too short to take anything for granted. I wear those AC/DC pants, I wear them proudly,” McNeil said.
McNeil has skated for 19 hours and 26 minutes at Toronto’s city hall rink over the past seven years to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s disease.
Over 500,000 Canadians live with dementia, according to the Alzheimer Society of Canada. That number is expected to nearly double in 15 years.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most well-known and common form of dementia but not everyone with dementia has Alzheimer’s disease. Symptoms include memory loss, difficulty concentrating and thinking, difficulty making reasonable decisions and judgments, and changes in personality and behaviour.