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Will Shannon take the plunge

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What would you do to save another person from suffering a terminal illness?

It turns out that Shannon Cann would tie a bouncy cord around her ankle and fling herself from a cliff if it meant she could help one more family facing the abyss of Alzheimer's disease.

Through a plan to bungee jump for the first time, Miss Cann has already raised more than $3,000 for charity Action on Alzheimer's and Dementia run by Elizabeth Stewart.

“I wanted to give a donation in honour of World Alzheimer's Month in November,” Miss Cann said. “My goal was to raise a minimum of $1,000, but I am happy to inform you that I raised $3,250.

“A couple people donated directly into the charity's account and I transferred the rest of the donations and will be in touch if I receive anymore.”

Miss Cann, 20, is studying for a Master of Laws at the University of Law in Bristol, England.

She lost her own grandmother, Ursula Hart, to Alzheimer's last July.

“It is something I have always wanted to do,” Miss Cann said. “I knew it would take a lot of courage. It is crazy and something that most people wouldn't want to do.”

Mrs Hart first became ill when Miss Cann was just eight years old. Being a child, Miss Cann didn't really notice it at first until her mother pointed it out to her.

“The hardest part was when she couldn't remember who we were,” said Miss Cann. “When she first started forgetting people, the only person she remembered was my grandfather.

“And then it got to the point where she couldn't remember anyone. Her condition became so bad she couldn't eat, move or talk or do anything.”

Mrs Hart taught at Paget Primary for many years where she was well loved by students and staff.

Despite the disease, some elements of her personality remained through it all.

“She was lovely,” said Miss Cann. “She was the sweetest lady. She was very religious. No one had anything bad to say about her.

“Even when she suffered from Alzheimer's, she was still sweet. Apparently, a lot of people with the disease get frustrated, but she was still her loving self and joking around and laughing. She remained herself through it all.”

Miss Cann said her grandmother would probably be pretty shocked to hear she was going to bungee jump, but also very proud.

Miss Cann picked Action on Alzheimer's because she knew they were a great help and resource to people and family's coping with the disease.

Unfortunately, the charity was only formed a bit too late to really help Miss Cann's family.

“I chose to fundraise for Action on Alzheimer's and Dementia because prior to their formation, I thought that there was a lack of support and understanding of the disease,” she said. “I think most people underestimate how hard it is to have a family member suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia.

“There is such a need for the charity and I support what they are trying to achieve in Bermuda.”

This is not the first time she has fundraised for charity.

Last year, by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, she raised $5,000 for Childreach International, a British charity that works to improve children's access to healthcare, education, child rights and protection in the developing world.

She will bungee jump on October 27, in Windsor, England from a crane held 300ft over water.

If you would like to support her cause, donate directly to Action on Alzheimer's by contacting them at alzbermuda@yahoo.com or see their website at www.alzbermuda.com or contact Miss Cann at shannon.c.cann@gmail.com.

Shannon Cann
The late Ursula Hart and granddaughter Shannon Cann as a toddler.
The most common form of dementia: Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder named for German physician Alois Alzheimer who first encountered and documented it in the early 1900s.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss which interferes with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 50 to 70 percent of dementia cases.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive and fatal brain disease which destroys brain cells, causing memory loss and problems with thinking and behaviour. These symptoms affect an individuals work, hobbies and social life. The disease gets worse over time and it is ultimately fatal.

There are approximately 35 million people living with Alzheimer’s worldwide. Typically an Alzheimer’s sufferer will live eight to ten years after diagnosis.

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Published October 13, 2013 at 9:56 pm (Updated October 14, 2013 at 9:21 am)

Will Shannon take the plunge

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