News Local

Big band, bigger Alzheimer fundraiser

Emily Distefano

It’s already an annual tradition for many loyal fans, but organizers are hoping that this year’s Ukrainian Dinner will bring in even more support from Carman and the surrounding communities. For the first time ever, the event - which benefits the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba - will be held at a bigger venue, with eight-person band Rewind (pictured above), dancing and more...but don’t worry, the traditional Ukrainian menu will be staying the same. (COURTESY REWIND)

It’s already an annual tradition for many loyal fans, but organizers are hoping that this year’s Ukrainian Dinner will bring in even more support from Carman and the surrounding communities. For the first time ever, the event - which benefits the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba - will be held at a bigger venue, with eight-person band Rewind (pictured above), dancing and more...but don’t worry, the traditional Ukrainian menu will be staying the same. (COURTESY REWIND)

Carman’s annual Alzheimer Ukrainian Dinner is back again this year, and organizers are aiming to make it bigger and better than ever.

The long-time fundraiser is aiming to attract both the regular crowd of supporters and some brand new faces to the table in February.

For the first time ever, the dinner is changing venues. Instead of being held at the Carman Active Living Centre, it will be held at the Carman Community Hall. In past years, the dinner has always sold out, with a waiting list in case any seats become available. Now, there will be room for quite a few more people.

Bob Kowalchuk, the event’s founder and organizer, said this year is something of an experiment, but he hopes to use the bigger venue to draw increased support from a wider demographic.

“We’ve had tremendous support in the past, said Kowalchuk. “So we thought we’d give it a try and see if we can go a little bit bigger.”

The ALC seats around 160-170 people; the Community Hall seats at least 225 with room for a dance floor and a larger stage for the event’s headliner, the eight-person Winnipeg-based band Rewind.

The group “brings back the golden era of rock, pop, and doo wop of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s.”

The band took the stage at the Roland Pumpkin Fair last October, to good reviews.

Besides the entertainment, the dinner will feature a silent auction and a speech from the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba’s CEO Wendy Schettler.

While the Alzheimer Society runs various fundraising events throughout the province, this dinner is unique to Carman.

First started in 2003, it ran 12 years before Kowalchuk decided to retire the dinner after 2014’s event. That obviously didn’t last, as the community asked to bring it back after two years off.

Last year’s dinner raised around $7000, and organizers are hoping to beat that number this year.

Also some things will be different this year, what remains completely unchanged is the dinner’s signature menu. Attendees will be treated to borscht, perogies, sausages, sauerkraut and more - all the trimmings of a traditional Ukrainian meal.

The food is a direct tribute to Kowalchuk’s mother Anne, whose battle with Alzheimer’s inspired the event in the first place.

“It’s something people normally don’t have,” said Kowalchuk. “It’s to honour my mom, because that’s something that she loved making, these Ukrainian dishes.”

The meal will be catered again this year by Suzi Keck of Country Style Catering.

Also as usual, all proceeds from the dinner will be donated to the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba.

Kowalchuk noted that the dinner’s cause is one that affects many, many people across the province.

According to the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba, more than 22,500 Manitobans currently have Alzheimer’s Disease or another dementia. This number is growing at an “alarming rate” and is expected to reach over 40,700 by 2038. Forty-three per cent of Manitobans have a family member or close friend with Alzheimer’s Disease or another dementia. And an estimated 124,000 Manitobans are reported to have used the services of the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba.

Country-wide, there are an estimated 564,000 Canadians living with dementia. By 2031, this is expected to increase by 66 per cent to 937,000 people.

This year’s Alzheimer Ukrainian Dinner is scheduled for February 24, starting at 5:00 p.m. at the Carman Community Hall.

Tickets cost $30 and are available at the Carman Active Living Centre or BenefitsRX Pharmacy. You can also contact Bob Kowalchuk, to reserve tickets or for more information, at 204-745-2649.

For seniors in Carman who wish to attend but don’t have transportation, the Carman Handi-van will have special extended hours during the evening of Feb. 24.

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edistefano@postmedia.com