Letter: …I would also like to encourage people to donate to The Purple Canoe’s, The Longest Day fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association

Dear Editor,

I want to extend my gratitude for you running the article “Paddling with
Purpose…” in your August 28, 2021 Echo. I was born and raised a
612’er but found Ely in the late 70’s. I met Frank “Ozzie” Wattunen
in Minneapolis around that same time. He told co-workers and I that he was
in the process of building a log cabin on family property on Fall Lake. A
simple curiosity led me this way again and I was hooked on the woods and
water. We married on the shores of Fall Lake in 1984 so I guess you could
say I was hooked on him too!

Thru the years, Ozzie has been at my side and a constant source of support as
we watched my parents age. Their passing 4 months apart in 2018/2019 is
still a source of great sadness for me. The Purple Canoe project is a way
of taking our love for paddling and putting it to good use in communities and
raising awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s and other dementias. We just
returned from a 10-4-10 adventure, paddling in 10 different states in 10
days. Our mission is grassroots and spreading awareness occurred on boat
ramps, counter stools in diners, in campgrounds and vineyards, just to name a
few. Talking to folks one-one and hearing their stories and sharing some
resources is a small thing that may just have a big impact on that one
person. One person truly does matter when it comes to the impact of

Alzheimer’s and other dementias can be devasting diagnoses but we need to
continue to provide hope for those living with, and impacted by these
conditions. People can live meaningful lives, for many years, with a
diagnosis. We need to push for early detection and removing the stigma
associated with dementia.

Our website will be a landing page for not only our paddling adventures but a
place to compile resources for patients/caregivers and other interested
parties. There are so many people doing wonderful things out there and
providing a quick connection is something that I hope others find helpful.
There are online resources as well as wonderful community-based resources
which can have a huge impact on the life of a patient or caregiver. The Ely
area is so fortunate to have multiple resources that serve seniors and those
impacted by dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Association has been my springboard into the world of
advocacy. In meetings with U.S. senators and Representatives this past
spring virtually, or some actual face-to-face meetings this fall in
Minneapolis, I have found that the connection to our legislators is critical.
I implore Sen. Smith, Sen. Klobuchar, Rep. Stauber and Rep. Omar to
the multiple pieces of legislation that are supported by the Alzheimer’s
Association and currently before them regarding dementia issues. The needs
are many and varied and I hope for their support.

I would also like to encourage people to donate to The Purple Canoe’s, The
Longest Day fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association. Every single
donation has a global impact and is critical to keep advancing research and
providing support to the nearly 6 million people living with Alzheimer’s, a
number projected to more than double by 2050. I thank you in advance for
your support and want you to know that each donation makes me want to paddle
a little harder, portage a little longer, and keep smiling in the face of
this devastating disease.

Many Kind Regards,
Wendy Norcross
Golden Valley/Shady Lane, Ely MN