IT WAS a plan dreamt up through youthful innocence and a spirit of adventure.
Nearly four decades ago as 15-year-old schoolgirls, Genevieve Gittoes and her best friend decided on a whim to enter the City2Surf fun run.
Fast forward 38 years and in a bleak irony, Mrs Gittoes will run the event again, but this time without her friend, who last year was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s aged just 53.
Within a couple of years, she won’t know her two teenaged children and will likely be consigned to the same nursing home as her mother.
Deeply moved by her friend’s plight and determined to raise awareness about the insidious disease, Mrs Gittoes will run the famous race next month, leading a Tamworth team called the Memory Joggers.
“There are very few people who do not know someone affected by Alzheimer’s or dementia,” Mrs Gittoes said.
“It’s a horrible illness ... incidence is on the increase and still little is known about the cause.”
The former tennis coach has been in intensive training since April for the run, which will be held on August 10.
She is hoping to raise thousands of dollars and insists the money will stay in the community to support Alzheimer’s sufferers.
Mrs Gittoes said she was hopeful her friend would complete the course with her, but wasn’t sure if she would be well enough.
There are close to 1200 people in Tamworth living with dementia, a figure expected to triple by 2050.
An estimated 1.2 million Australians are caring for someone with dementia, a term used to describe the symptoms of a large group of illnesses which cause a progressive decline in a person’s functioning.
To donate to Mrs Gittoes’ run or join the team, log onto https://city2surf2014.everydayhero.com/au/genevieve or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org