Melbourne Memory Walk & Jog
When Riley Koops' Mum Bev was diagnosed with dementia at just 58 she made it very clear to him and the rest of their family that she wanted to help other people also living with the condition.
"I'll never forget the day we found out Mum had younger onset dementia," said Mr Koops.
"Despite our fears Mum sat us all down and said, 'I'm going to beat this and if I can't help myself I want to help others'."
“Our mum was such a fighter and a true inspiration. She was a caring smart woman, and she had a job she loved, working as a nurse providing help to people living in country Victoria.”
Determined to fulfil their Mum's wishes, Mr Koops, his brothers Shannon and Josh, and father Kenny, signed up to take part in last year's Memory Walk & Jog, the annual event by Dementia Australia that aims to raise funds to support people living with dementia, their family and carers.
The family started creating a team with an initial goal to raise $2000. But the results were so much more than the Koops' had imagined possible.
Named the Koops Troop, the team's numbers exploded and they raised a staggering $42,255, becoming one of the event's biggest and most successful teams in its history.
"We were just in shock about how generous and supportive people were; we reached our initial target in just 24 hours, there was so much support from our family, friends and the community. And we ended up with 140 people joining in with us," Mr Koops said.
Sadly, Bev Koops passed away not long before the event after a four and a half year battle with the dementia.
But Mr Koops said his family knows she would have been "incredibly proud of her family and friends for turning up to carry on her fight.
We would have loved to share the day with Mum to be able to see her infectious smile and have her encouraging us to keep going," he said.
The Koops Troop is now preparing to take part in this year's Memory Walk & Jog that's being held in towns and cities all around Australia. The Koops family has vowed to outdo themselves with a bigger team and more funds raised.
And they are urging others to take part by joining the event or sponsoring someone who is.
"It's not until dementia actually hits your own family that you realise how many people need your help," said Mr Koops.
"We were all de1ermined to fight back at dementia by raising vital funds to support those in need and hopefully find a cure one day
Written by Rosie Ryan