Bob Wood wants more people to talk about Alzheimer’s Disease as the former Nipissing MP, popular radio personality and air force veteran faces his own dementia reality.
He was diagnosed this year at age 78, the same as his father.
“We’ve been lucky to get it in the early stages,” said the Liberal representative for this area who holds the record for longest serving Nipissing MP.
Wood was first elected in 1988 when he narrowly beat PC incumbent Moe Mantha by 465 votes. Wood took on the challenge when local Liberals believed the popular Mantha couldn't be beaten.
It ended with his retirement in 2004.
Wood revealed his health challenge recently on Your TV’s Life Is with Peter Handley.
“We all have to have something, we’re not getting out alive,” he joked Thursday while taping a promotional clip for the Look, Listen and Laugh (Because Dementia Sucks) fundraiser at the Grande Event Centre Sept. 14.
“Everybody is afraid to talk about it and it is time we brought it out in the open,” said the military veteran who turned radio broadcaster before entering politics at the federal level. Wood was a safety equipment technician at RCAF Station Gimli, Manitoba prior to moving to North Bay in 1966. He was in radio for more than two decades, his Let Wood Work for You show a local must-listen hit on CFCH.
Wood was instrumental in stopping the Canadian military’s plan to close North Bay CFB 22 Wing and relocate Norad to Winnipeg in the late 1990s. He said former North Bay mayor Jack Burrows, since deceased, ensured the city was part of the proposal that ultimately won the backing of the then Prime Minister Jean Chretien.
Wood will take the stage at the September fundraiser to give a brief address prior to the J Houston Band playing at 7 p.m.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with a dinner menu available with the foyer featuring the work of artists. At 6:30 p.m., those in attendance will have the final say about whose image air-brush artist Jeff Marceau will reproduce during the evening. Choices will be featured online at www.smalltowntimes.ca where a silent auction of art is also taking place Sept. 7 to Sept. 21.
Contributors so far include potter Keith Campbell, painter David Carlin, photographer and artist Donna Cushing, painter Brett Trach, stained glass creator Bea Lockhart, potter Pat Stamp and private lesson certificates from piano teacher Christine Fortin and Jack Lockhart, among others. All proceeds to help the Alzheimer Society in North Bay increase respite care hours for families “living the dementia journey.”
The video promo featuring Wood was first published on YouTube at the Dave Dale Story Teller channel.
“It happened to me, it could happen to you, it could happen to any member of your family at any time,” Wood said about the disease that leads to memory loss, difficulties with thinking, problem-solving and language, severe enough to reduce one’s ability to perform everyday tasks.
Dale, a local journalist who started covering Wood’s career with a feature prior to his first election campaign in 1988, organized the fundraiser because his father also has dementia and the family benefited from respite program services in Sudbury. Dale, who is retiring from The Nugget through a voluntary buyout program Aug. 31, is also one of the local stand up comedians entertaining 8 to 10 p.m. before Johnny Rock and daughter Kelsey take the stage.
Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door, and tables of eight are $180 (with a charitable tax receipt available for $100.)
Wood said respite care is essential as many families and partners need a break from the demands of caring for afflicted loved ones. The event coincides with the Alzheimer Society’s annual fall Coffee Break awareness and fundraising campaign.
“This money is going to be used for respite care because when you have a person with Alzheimer's, it takes a lot out of everybody, so we need some money to help give those people a rest,” Wood added.
“My dad had Alzheimer's, now I have been diagnosed with it at the same year (age) as my dad, so I know how it all goes.
“So we need you to come on down and have a few laughs and donate to a great cause,” Wood said.
Tickets can be purchased Cecil’s Brewhouse and Kitchen or contact Dale at 705-498-2050 or email@example.com
Donations can also be made directly to the Alzheimer Society, just reference North Bay respite care on either the cheques or when contributing online.