The chances are, somebody in your life has dementia.
Three in 10 people over the age of 85, and almost one in 10 people over 65 have dementia.
It accounts for 5.4 per cent of all deaths in males and 10.6 per cent of all deaths in females each year, and is the second leading cause of death within Australia.
While this may not be news to you, or you may be aware of the effects and commonality of dementia, you may not be aware that those under 65 are also at risk of younger-onset dementia.
Local cyclist Nick Locandro set out to change that.
Mr Locandro, along with his riding partners Jarrod King and Jamie Huggett and a support crew set out to raise awareness for the affliction, by riding from Uluru all the way to Ballarat.
The 2000 kilometre journey was undertaken in memory of Mr Locandro’s father Sam, who died last year due to younger-onset dementia.
“It hits you hard, you don’t expect to find out that your dad has dementia in his 50s,” said Mr Locandro.
“We had no idea it could happen, and that’s what we wanted to change with this ride.
“Anything we can do to raise awareness, and hopefully contribute to helping those with younger-onset dementia is amazing.”
The team started their journey 14 days ago in the heart of Australia.
It wasn’t always smooth sailing, with Jamie Huggett suffering from knee issues four days into the ride.
“I wasn’t feeling great, but I had the support from all the guys. I knew I had to get ride through it and do this for a greater cause,” Mr Huggett said.
As word of their cause spread, they came across people during their ride who already knew what they were doing and offered their support.
The trio, along with a group of other Ballarat riders arrived back home around midday on Sunday to a hero’s welcome.
“We were happy to be coming back, but we had no idea there would be this many people here to welcome us,” Said Jarrod King, as he held his one-and-a-half-year-old daughter Isla.
Arriving at Lake Wendouree to close out Sunday’s Compassion Walk was perfectly fitting for Mr Locandro.
“Our entire goal was to raise awareness about younger-onset dementia, but also to make people feel compassionate to those around them,” Nick said.
“Seeing how much community support this has generated is amazing, and we hope that it will go a long way to helping those in need.”
Mr Locandro’s initial goal of raising $20,000 for Dementia Australia was quickly achieved, and the goal now sits at $50,000.
To support the cause, donate online here.
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