Senior executives from corporate Australia have spent the last four Saturdays surfing alongside Ambassador Richard Grellman AM, to raise funds for research and increase awareness of modifiable lifestyle factors for improving brain health, as part of Wipeout Dementia.
Today, the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) at UNSW ran the second round of Wipeout Dementia, a world first corporate strength-for-surfing campaign culminating in a competitive Surf Off contest to raise funds for The Dementia Momentum.
Following his show of support for the first Wipeout Dementia in May, NSW Premier Mike Baird participated in the Surf-Off this morning at Queenscliff.
"With a rapidly expanding ageing population, dementia is set to bring an enormous challenge to health, aged care and social policy. I fully support Richard Grellman in his role with CHeBA to drive positive change for the future of all Australians," Premier Mike Baird said.
Premier Mike Baird was a member of victorious team Grellman's Evergreens, who competed against Gillepsie's Grommets Forever and Cunningham's Cruisers.
The high profile participants were keen to join the campaign after the first event in May 2015 - which involved a surfing appearance from then Prime Minister Tony Abbott - increased appreciation of the massive health and socioeconomic challenge the dementia epidemic poses to Australia.
“Our participants have been great, many of them making donations personally and all of them drawing on their extensive professional networks,” said Spokesman for The Dementia Momentum, Richard Grellman AM, Chairman of Genworth Mortgage Insurance, IPH Limited and AMP Foundation and former Chairman of The Association of Surfing Professionals (International) Limited.
This fundraising event is in honour of Richard’s wife Suellen, who has advanced young onset Alzheimer’s disease and now requires full time care and attention.
"We need help to get resources directed to researching prevention, diagnosis and treatment and corporate Australia is the best hope we have for getting the volume of funds we need quickly, so we can start seeing results."
Flight Centre was the major sponsor of the event and the company’s general manager of customer experience, Darren Wright, said the cause was close to the heart of many employees, making it a natural fit when the sponsorship opportunity arose.
“We are an organisation of more than 5000 employees nationally, many of whom have been touched by dementia, so we are proud to support a cause we believe in and participate in the Surf Off alongside our industry peers to raise funds and awareness while braving the waves,” Darren Wright said.
Surfing NSW also joined forces with CHeBA to deliver Wipeout Dementia.
“To coin an old surfing phrase, Surfing NSW is ‘stoked’ to be able to help out with such a great cause. Richard Grellman is one of surfing’s true gentlemen and to be able to support him with something so close to his heart is special for us,” said Chief Executive Officer Mark Windon.
With a rich surfing history spanning over 45 years, Mr Windon is generously providing the running commentary for the Surf Off contest.
1978 World Surfing Champion and Ambassador for Wipeout Dementia Wayne Rabbit Bartholomew AM congratulated Surfing NSW for their involvement and called upon the surfing community to support Wipeout Dementia.
“Participating with the corporate gladiators in challenging surf at Queenscliff in May was a real buzz,” said Rabbit.
“I am proud to continue as an Ambassador for Wipeout Dementia. Richard Grellman was a guiding figure who helped reshape the structure of professional surfing during his time as ASP Chairman and was very much a mentor figure to me. I became close to Richard’s family and was very touched by the effect Suellen’s ordeal had on the entire family unit.”
“This day represents a fantastic initiative to raise much needed funds for dementia research. With cardiovascular health in mid life a key factor in brain health in later life, it is awesome to be part of a collective surfing effort in support of Richard’s role with CHeBA – The Dementia Momentum,” said Rabbit.
CHeBA Co-Directors, Professor Perminder Sachdev and Professor Henry Brodaty said they were encouraged by the philanthropic support received from the Australian business community to date.
“Funding support is critical for the research breakthroughs needed to tackle dementia,” said Professor Sachdev.
“Wipeout Dementia is also a fantastic opportunity to increase awareness about how physical activity can help brain health, and it is never too late to begin exercising.”
A recent analysis showed that physically inactive individuals had an 80% increased risk of dementia.
By contrast, physical exercise has positive and protective effects on brain function, not only reducing risk factors but increasing neuroplasticity.
Richard Grellman confirmed that the team raised nearly $80,000 to advance the large-scale, “big data” research being conducted at CHeBA as well as significant sponsorship.
Flight Centre is the major sponsor for Wipeout Dementia November 2015. Realestate.com.auPty Ltd is Wipeout Dementia’s secondary sponsor and Colliers International and ProGood are supporter sponsors. Surfing NSW, Queenscliff Surf Life Saving Club and Hurley have all provided in-kind support.
To sponsor one of the Wipeout Dementia participants CLICK HERE.
For more information about Wipeout Dementia CLICK HERE.
Heidi Mitchell | Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing | +61 2 9382 3398 | 0435 579 202