Since 2010, the Société Alzheimer Laval (SAL) organizes the Pédal’don, a bike ride on a recreational trail called Le P'tit Train du Nord in the Laurentians. Cyclists pedal 100 km over two days to raise funds for Alzheimer's disease and other neurocognitive diseases. Each cyclist must raise a minimum of $1,000 to participate.

Lise Lalande, Executive Director of the SAL, explains that 60 per cent of the funds of the non-profit organization come from grants, and 40 per cent from self-financing. In order to provide low-cost respite care, fundraising is required. "Caregivers pay $15 a day for respite, which does not cover expenses," she says.

Not to mention that respite services are in high demand. So much so that there are, unfortunately, waiting lists for patients. While the SAL offers respite services exclusively to the citizens of Laval, it also offers information services for relatives living outside the city.

The SAL is a community organization that helps people affected by Alzheimer's disease or a related illness. It also contributes to research, awareness and information about the disease.

Since the beginning of Pédal’don, many cyclists have been loyal to the event, year after year. Which is exactly the case for Luc Côté, 79. He has been involved in Pédal'don since its beginnings in 2010 after meeting people with Alzheimer's.

Côté may be an experienced cyclist now, but that hasn’t always been the case. He started cycling while he was resting at home after a work-related accident. "My daughter had left me her bike, so I started slowly; one kilometre, two kilometres...,” he explains. “I got a taste and have continued every year.” In 2010, he cycled over 2,000 km. In 2018, he cycled more than 4,000 km.

Of all the participants in Pédal'don, Côté is the only one who goes door-to-door. "When I went door-to-door, I met people with Alzheimer's. I think it's an illness where people are abandoned,” he says. Since 2010, Côté has raised a total of $19,912.75 – and counting! Côté thinks visiting people door-to-door helps. "If we're ready to do that, people are very generous, it’s great," he says.

In order to prove the legitimacy of their approach, people who collect donations can show an official letter from the SAL. Donors can call and verify the file of the person who is raising funds. Côté goes door-to-door, others organize a spaghetti dinner. One of the participants, who has his own business, sponsors his own participation in Pédal’don. Every year, the ride takes place on the track of P'tit Train du Nord. And every year, the same cyclists return.

In addition to cyclists, two volunteers are on the road. This year, it will be Lalande and one of her colleagues in the vehicles trailing behind the cyclists. Pédal'don's formula is fairly constant from year to year. However, in 2018, the participants and the team stayed in a new hotel, the Manoir Saint-Sauveur in the Laurentians.

The 2019 edition of Pédal'don will mark an important anniversary both for the event and for Côté. "It will be the 10th edition, and I'm going to be 80!”

The event will take place on August 24 and 25, 2019. Anyone who would like more information or who would like to make a donation, can visit the SAL’s website, or by reaching Lise Lalande at 450-975-0966, ext. 230.

Translated by Maria Barillaro