Ottawa

Man embarks on 19-hour skate to support Alzheimer's programs

Steve McNeil has been gliding around Ottawa's Rink of Dreams since midnight Friday and plans to skate for 19 straight hours to raise awareness for Alzheimer's disease.

Steve McNeil will be gliding around Ottawa's Rink of Dreams until Saturday evening

Steve McNeil, seen here skating earlier this year in Montreal, said that his 19-hour skate on Ottawa's Rink of Dreams represents the marathon days that are typical for a caregiver. (Navneet Pall/CBC)

The hardest part, Steve McNeil says, were the overnight laps around the oval.

The Toronto man has been gliding around Ottawa's Rink of Dreams since midnight Friday and plans to skate for 19 straight hours to raise awareness for Alzheimer's disease.

"I got through the tough part of it, getting through the night," McNeil told CBC Radio's In Town And Out Saturday morning, roughly eight hours into his marathon skate.

"[But] watching the city come into life like this in the morning is a really extraordinary thing."

McNeil's skate aims to support agencies in Ottawa who are helping patients and their families struggling to cope with the disease. 

The 19 hours of skating, McNeil said, represents the marathon days that are typical for a caregiver.

He'll also be tacking on an additional 26 minutes to honour his late mother, who was born in 1926 and suffered from the disease for 20 years.

McNeil cared for his mother for five years, he said, before she went to a nursing home.

"It affects so many more people than just the person [with Alzheimer's]," he said. "This is [also] my dedication to all the caregivers out there."

Steve McNeil is skating for 19 hours and twenty six minutes to raise awareness for Alzeimer's disease. 7:36

Only a few breaks

McNeil started his annual skate in 2012 during Alzheimer's Awareness Month, which is January in Canada.

He plans to just take a few short breaks to change socks and visit the bathroom, and said he welcomes people to visit the rink Saturday to say hello.

The City of Ottawa, he said, gave him permission to skate at the site overnight. 

His skate is expected to wrap up at 7:26 p.m. Saturday.