Prime Minister Tony Abbott was an enthusiastic participant in the inaugural Wipeout Dementia Surf Off at Queenscliff on Saturday 23 May 2015, raising almost $100,000 for The Dementia Momentum initiative at the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA).
"Research is incredibly important for all our futures because with life expectancies getting up to the mid-80s and beyond a lot more people are going to end up with dementia of one form or another," said Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Spokesman for The Dementia Momentum, Richard Grellman AM, said the event was an extraordinary success and credited the 16 other participants for their dedication in raising awareness and for their training efforts over the last four weeks.
The four week event, sponsored by Watson Mangioni Lawyers, was in honour of Richard Grellman’s wife Suellen who has advanced young onset Alzheimer’s disease. He said the key message is for all Australians to get active to reduce their risk of dementia.
At the awards ceremony following the Surf Off Prime Minister Tony Abbott congratulated Richard Grellman on his incredible effort to increase awareness and raise funds for CHeBA. Attendees at the event including Manly Mayor Jean Hay and the competitors’ family and friends were delighted when Richard Grellman presented the Prime Minister with a pair of Wipeout Dementia “budgie smugglers” donated by aussieBum.
Newly re-elected NSW Premier Mike Baird, who was unable to participate due to a prior engagement said he backed the Wipeout Dementia campaign and called for more support from community and corporate philanthropy for The Dementia Momentum.
"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.
1978 World Surfing Champion and Wipeout Dementia Ambassador, Wayne Rabbit Bartholomew AM, gave an emotionally heartfelt speech to the group after competing in the Surf Off event with Richard Grellman’s winning team.
“Richard Grellman has for the last 15 years been a mentor figure in my life. As Chairman of ASP International, Richard was a great asset, in fact instrumental, in the implementation of the "Dream Tour" concept, ushering in a new era of governance that set Professional Surfing on its ascendancy. Moreover, Richard and Suellen became close personal friends, our social and professional lives interacting on many levels, and I have witnessed the challenges, heartbreak, despair and resignation that the Grellmans’ journey has taken them on. I am privileged to be alongside the great man once again,” he said.
Participants of the first ever Wipeout Dementia event included Managing Director of Colliers, Peter Chittenden, who took out the wipeout award of the day and Managing Director of Cunninghams, John Cunningham, who received a DHD surfboard award for his incredible efforts in raising just under $16,000 for the cause. Top surfing scores of the day were celebrated by Rob Gillespie, Wayne Rabbit Bartholomew, Tony Camphin, Ian Bennett and Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The remaining participants in the 4 week fundraiser with Richard Grellman were Chris Clarke who received the Player’s Player award, David Foster, recipient of the Coach’s most improved award Ben Grellman, Michael Gulley, Warren King, Doug Miller-Davie, Paul Oesterheld, David Smith, Richard Stubley and David Young.
Richard Grellman said he was humbled by the group’s fundraising efforts to advance the large-scale, “big data” research being conducted at CHeBA and extended his thanks on behalf of CHeBA to all donors.
The Wipeout Dementia concept is the brainchild of Heidi Mitchell, marketing and communications officer for CHeBA. She said Richard Grellman’s passion for surfing and his strong group of surfing friends and colleagues, in their 50s and 60s, was the inspiration behind the campaign. Campaign co-ordinator Rob Gillespie, who managed the Surf Off, credits his mother-in-law Colleen Nichols for coming up with the “Wipeout Dementia” title. The four week strength for surfing course, tailored for the more mature surfer, was delivered charitably by PDHPE teacher and strength and conditioning coach Craig Douglass of Breathe Fire Specialised Training.
The popular image of a bronzed, outdoors-loving and sports mad Aussie belies the fact that Australians are one of the most physically inactive people internationally. There is incontrovertible evidence that physical inactivity increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, diabetes and depression. All of these are risk factors for dementia. 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.
The brain abnormalities that lead to dementia are known to start at least 20-30 years before the disease becomes manifest, suggesting that behaviours in young and mid adulthood will have a significant impact on brain health in old age.
Co-Directors of the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing, Professors Perminder Sachdev and Henry Brodaty, say one of the most effective strategies we can adopt to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia later in life is to become physically active from an early age, and remain active throughout our lives.
“The SMART trial conducted with our collaborators showed that physical exercise reduced the rate of decline in cognitive function in those with mild memory problems,” said Professor Sachdev.
The message for all Australians is: get active. CHeBA researchers recommend individuals to exercise at a moderate intensity for at least 30-40 minutes every day, including a degree of vigorous exercise. The participants in Wipeout Dementia, who were aged up to 67 years, are all perfect examples of the benefits that accrue from physical exercise.
To make a donation to The Dementia Momentum please contact firstname.lastname@example.org phone (02) 9382 3398.
For more information about The Dementia Momentum please visit https://www.thedementiamomentum.org
For more information about CHeBA, visit www.cheba.unsw.edu.au
Wipeout Dementia 2015 was proudly sponsored by Watson Mangioni Lawyers Pty Limited.
Queenscliff Surf Lifesaving Club provided premises to run the training program and ceremony. Other in-kind supporters were Breathe Fire Specialised Training, Hurley, Murray Fraser from Sprout Daily, SB Promo, RG Meats and Potato Press.