Health

A race to end Alzheimer’s: Woman participating in 10 triathlons across Canada to raise awareness, honour mom

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A Torontonian is undertaking an endurance challenge few have attempted before to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s and honour those impacted by the disease.


Stephanie Fauquier plans to swim, cycle and run more than 500 kilometres from May to September in a bid to end Alzheimer’s. That’s almost a race per week – and she’s participating in one in each Canadian province.


Along the way, Fauquier aims to raise $250,000 in support of Alzheimer’s research at the University of Toronto’s Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases as part of her “Race with Steph” campaign.


Her athletic feat will honour her mother, Robin McLeod, who was diagnosed with aphasia, a condition that can be an early sign of Alzheimer’s. Over the past 18 months, her condition has progressed into Alzheimer’s.


McLeod, a world-renowned surgeon specialising in general surgery and colorectal cancer, is a recipient of the Order of Canada and was awarded several fellowships and prizes for teaching surgical technique and supporting women in surgery.


Fauquier is racing across the country in a tie-dye blue suit, which features a picture of her mother’s Order of Canada and a picture of the two of them together.


She says her mother is the driving force behind her campaign.


“She’s really been the most amazing parent,” Fauquier told CTV’s Your Morning on Tuesday. “She has instilled in me the sense that I can achieve anything I set my mind to … Achieving what I’m doing this summer, I couldn’t imagine not doing this for her.”


Fauquier has completed 10 triathlons before, but never in one season. So far this season, she has completed a triathlon in British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and in Manitoba.


Despite being only halfway through her running goal, Fauquier is only $13,000 shy from achieving her fundraising goal.


“It’s pretty amazing to see Canadians rally behind us,” she said. “We’re making an endowment fund in my mom’s name, so we will always be contributing to Alzheimer’s research.”


But Fauquier’s campaign goes beyond raising money. She hopes her campaign will raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease, too.


“Alzheimer’s disease is one that we don’t talk about enough and I hope we can have more awareness, support and love,” she said.


In 2020, 597,300 people were reported to be living with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia in Canada and more than 950,000 are projected to be diagnosed with the disease by 2030, according to Alzheimer Society Canada.


Fauquier has five triathlons left this summer and her last one will be at Niagara Falls’ Barrelman 70.3 on Sept. 17. The races include two half-Ironman competitions, two traditional triathlons and six sprint events.


To hear the full interview, click the video at the top of this article. 

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