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Linda Johnston dinner set for Saturday

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Hot on the heels of another fundraising dinner, the Alzheimer Society of Kenora/Rainy River is at it again.

The Society, with the help of the Red Hat Ladies of Rainy River, will be hosting the annual Linda Johnston Memorial Dinner at the Rainy River Legion on Saturday, Feb. 22.

Alzheimer society client services co-ordinator Mary O'Connor promised the night is always a fun time for the west end town.

“What we'll do is we come down, we'll have a great meal,” O'Connor explained.

“And then we'll have an information table there, so after supper we'll do a little spiel and whatnot and then we'll do the penny tables and we end with the chair draws and it's just a fun evening out, supports the Alzheimer Society, and it's a good time for everybody.”

Named after Linda Johnston, a long-time supporter of the Alzheimer Society, the annual dinner has all the things that make small town community events so much fun to attend, including a roast beef dinner that will come with mashed potatoes, veggies, coleslaw and a dessert.

“In Rainy they have these unique chair raffles, so that is pretty cool,” O'Connor said.

“They have people who actually paint a variety of items, quite often like rocking chairs, we've had antique high chairs for children, we had a saw one year, I'm not sure what all is in the works [this year]. And of course in Rainy River the big draw is the penny table, you can't have anything in Rainy without a penny table, it's the law.”

Of course, the proceeds from such a fun dinner go towards the Alzheimer Society, and O'Connor said that money directly benefits those who are living with Alzheimers and dementia in the district, as well as their families and primary caregivers, by supporting the programs the Society offers.

“This last little while we've really been focusing on the music project, that's a big thing with our people with dementia,” she said, referring to the project which aims to get iPods filled with personalized playlists into the hands of people living with dementia.

“And it seems like that's something that we're always looking for, is used iPods, so that's one of the things that it will go to support.”

However, the money also goes towards items that are less flashy than iPods but no less important in the day to day life of those living with dementia and Alzheimers.

“One of the biggest things that we do here is that all of our services are free,” O'Connor stressed.

“I'm having a learning series starting Feb. 21... and it will be four weeks of intense two hour training once a week, and so what that means is everybody gets a workbook, everybody gets handouts and every week there will be a new workbook to put into your folder. All of that costs a lot of money... and because we want to reach the people that need it, we don't want money to be an obstacle, and so that's what a lot of our stuff goes for.”

O'Connor also noted that in many instances, people who begin to experience dementias aren't financially prepared for the future, and with costs like the price of an iPod for the music project removed, the Alzheimer Society's programs remain accessible to those who need them.

Having been involved with these dinners for the last few years, O'Connor knows how much work goes into holding one and making them run smoothly, and she said that she's grateful for everyone involved in helping to make the Lina Johnston Memorial Dinner such an important event in Rainy River.

“We're so grateful for all the help that we have,” she said.

“Everywhere I have the most amazing volunteers and the Red Hat Ladies are so much fun to work with, and we're just really appreciative. And all the hard work that Marlene McNally goes to and her helpers, to collect all the prizes throughout the district for the penny table, they have been just amazing.”

The Linda Johnston Memorial Dinner is set to run at the Rainy River Legion this Saturday, Feb. 22. The doors open at 5 p.m. and tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased by calling Deb Wagner at 852-3687. Meals can also be ordered for delivery.

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