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Pro surfers join property execs in a bid to wipe out dementia

Market Insights
4 months ago
3 minutes

Legendary Australian pro surfers Owen Wright and Mark ‘Occy’ Occhilupo have announced their collaboration with top property industry executives for the 13th Wipeout Dementia event. Set to be held on Bondi Beach on 5 April 2024, they’ll be surfing waves to drive large-scale dementia research and promote healthy brain ageing awareness.

Wipeout Dementia is a long-standing initiative led by the University of New South Wales’ Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA). The initiative has advocated active lifestyles throughout life to decrease the risk of developing dementia in older age.

Owen Wright, who won a bronze medal in the 2020 Olympics, witnessed the start of his father’s decline to dementia not long after Wright suffered a traumatic brain injury from a heavy wipeout while competing for a world title at Pipeline.

“Dad was there for me when I needed him most throughout my recovery and life,” Wright said, now retired from professional surfing after witnessing his father’s struggle with dementia.

He adds, “His decline has been a really hard thing to watch, but it’s been an honour to care for my father now I have the time and I somewhat feel like I understand a little about what he’s experiencing after my own battle with my brain.”

Mark ‘Occy’ Occhilupo, 1999 World Title Winner, also enthusiastically indicated his support, saying, “It’s an honour to be an Ambassador for this worthy cause and in some small way help promote healthy brain ageing in this country.”

The surf event, supported by Morgans Financial, Avenor, Winten Property Group, Buildcorp, AWM, SHAPE, Sense Projects, Haigs, SBC Plumbing, and NetNada, has witnessed the participation of 56 surfers from the property industry. This will be the 13th Wipeout Dementia event.

Since its inception in 2015, dementia rates have climbed from 44 million to nearly 57 million. Currently, over 487,000 Australians are living with dementia, which has become the leading cause of death among women, overtaking heart disease.

Remarkable, the teams, captained by Avenor Director Peter Clemesha, Director at Bates Smart Philip Vivian, Craig Rodgers – Executive Consultant at TSA Advisory, Steve Watson – Managing Director of Steve Watson & Partners, Novm Project Director Darren Beasley, General Manager of Buildcorp Interiors, Michael Gordon, and Director of AWM Commercial Furniture, Anthony Scotts, have helped raise more than $2.5 million for dementia research.

Steve Watson, Managing Director of Steve Watson & Partners, admitted, “I lost my Dad to Lewy body dementia in 2019 and it was devastating to watch him being robbed of his vitality.

“This disease is pervasive and more needs to be done given how debilitating it is.”

The team at CHeBA stresses the need for early diagnosis of dementia and related disorders, citing the importance of young and mid-adulthood behaviour on brain health in old age.

"Vascular cognitive disorders represent a major healthcare burden on society," says Professor Perminder Sachdev, CHeBA Co-Director. He further underscores the importance of biomarkers across blood, neuroimaging, and digital and retinal imaging for facilitating early detection and treatment development.

The number of people living with dementia worldwide is predicted to triple by 2056 without a medical breakthrough.

“The sharing of personal stories continues to inspire us to expand our research across the full spectrum of the disease beyond drug treatments, to include early diagnosis and prevention strategies,” said CHeBA Co-Directors Professor Henry Brodaty and Professor Sachdev.

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