Grieving loved ones of league super coach and ex-Kiwis international Mike McClennan are set to hit the pavement in his memory – and raise funds to help other families who are battling dementia.
McClennnan, 75, was found dead five weeks ago after a six-day search for him on the Hibiscus Coast.
He had gone missing from a dementia care unit at Milton Court Rest Home, Orewa, and his body was later found in dense bush near Hatfields Beach.
Next Sunday his son and fellow acclaimed league coach Brian and grandsons Regan and Daniel will run the Omaha Half Marathon to raise funds for Dementia Auckland. His granddaughter Katie and daughter-in-law Julie will walk the 10k event in what will be a very personal charity drive.
Brian McClennan has opened up on the family's pain over the tragedy in today's Herald on Sunday, saying it had left a huge void and they were traumatised they weren't there for him when he needed them the most.
"My dad was a sick man and for that I am glad he is at peace now," he said.
"[But] we are extremely uncomfortable that he had to end his way like that."
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Mike McClennan had been suffering from dementia for about five years and the family had spoken about raising both funds and awareness of the crippling illness prior to his death.
"We are trying to do things as a family to try and bring some positivity," Brian McClennan said.
"That is going to be a lot of our way of grieving and coming to terms with it [Mike's death], to try and do something positive to help other people.
"The way people got in behind our family absolutely blew our minds, the generosity and compassion from other people towards us was amazing. Now we want to try and do something back, to raise money.
"It might just help another family a little bit. We want to help other families deal with this situation."
The McClennan family hope to raise at least $10,000 for Dementia Auckland; which offers support programmes and advocacy for dementia sufferers and carers, with the charity having a stated goal of doing its part to ensure "people affected by dementia can continue to live an enriching and enjoyable life".
Community-based respite programmes include in the areas of music, art and walking.
Almost 70,000 New Zealanders have dementia and according to Dementia New Zealand that number is expected to triple by 2050.
McClennan said having witnessed his father's battle with dementia, then the pain of his disappearance, he was committed to doing anything he could to help other Kiwi families impacted by the disease. The first initiative was running for charity.
"Hopefully some people can throw in some dollars, here and there," he said.
"One of the things that has come out of dad is the amount of people that are in a similar position [is large]. Their mum or dad, nanny or 'Da' [grandad], are suffering from dementia ... there are so many people out there with this problem.
"So we have decided we want to do what we can. We want to help out with other families that have the same problem."
• Next Sunday Brian and grandsons Regan and Daniel will run the Omaha Half Marathon to raise funds for Dementia Auckland. Donate here.