Toronto man's fundraiser for Alzheimer's gets major boost from AC/DC guitarist
Published Wednesday, February 20, 2019 4:15PM EST
A Toronto man’s skating campaign to fundraise for Alzheimer’s disease charities caught the attention of rock band AC/DC, resulting in a donation of $19,260 to the cause.
Steve McNeil, a Toronto recreational hockey referee, started his 1926 Skate campaign in 2012, skating 19 hours and 26 minutes straight to raise money for Alzheimer’s awareness .
This year his fundraising total will see a major boost, after catching the attention of AC/DC lead guitarist and band co-founder Angus Young.
McNeil says he’s a huge fan of the band since he “accidentally saw them” back in 1978, and for years has skated exclusively to their music.
“Four years ago I started dedicating the musical side of my skate to Malcolm Young, because he was diagnosed with dementia,” McNeil told CTV News Channel.
Malcolm, Angus Young’s brother and co-guitarist, died from complications related to the disease in 2017.
As McNeil skated in Alberta on Saturday evening, a man approached him.
“A gentleman was standing there, as I skated towards him, he shook my hand and he says ‘I saw you on the news last night and I had to call my dad and tell him,’” McNeil said.
McNeil said people often approach to bring him a coffee and share their stories of dealing with Alzheimer’s, but this time it was a little different.
“I shook his hand and said, ‘It’s too bad – is your dad battling Alzheimer’s?’ And he said, ‘No, my dad is the drummer from AC/DC.’”
Drummer Chris Slade called McNeil from Las Vegas, and the two had a video chat.
“My jaw dropped, and my world was changed,” McNeil said. “It was a dream come true.”
McNeil said the band’s management reached out to him two days later, telling him that Young wanted to donate after hearing about McNeil’s cause.
But it’s not the brush with his musical heroes that has McNeil the most excited – it’s what the exposure the donation can do for Alzheimer’s awareness.
“The best part is, it’s just raising so much more awareness across the country,” McNeil said.
McNeil started his campaign in honour of the year his mother was born. McNeil said she suffered from Alzheimer’s for almost 20 years before she died in 2012.
For the seventh year of the campaign, McNeil decided to ramp things up, holding marathon skating sessions in all seven Canadian NHL cities. At each stop he partners with local Alzheimer’s societies, asking people to donate $19.26 to the cause. \
Donations can be made on his website, and will be open until June 30.