Howe puts hockey endurance to work for Alzheimer's research

The Canadian Press

3/18/2011 7:42:46 PM

CALGARY -- Gordie Howe may be approaching 83, but the man who played pro hockey longer than anyone else still works tirelessly to raise money for Alzheimer's research.

Howe, whose birthday is March 31, has helped raise funds for the cause via the Gordie & Colleen Howe Fund for Alzheimer's, including $1.1 million from the Scotiabank Pro-Am Hockey Tournament in Calgary on Saturday and Sunday.

Howe, whose nickname is "Mr. Hockey", was in Calgary on Friday to welcome ex-NHL players participating in the pro-am tournament, including Dave "Tiger" Williams, Lanny McDonald, and Marty McSorley. Howe was presented with a white cowboy hat by Calgary major Naheed Nenshi.

Howe's wife Colleen was diagnosed with Pick's disease, a rare form of dementia, in 2002 and died just over two years ago at the age of 76. Finding a cure for dementia is important to the Howe family.

"There's so many families that run into the same situation that we did," said Gordie's son Marty. "It's a horrible disease and anything they can do to help people along, we're willing to help out.

"They're going to find a cure. It's just a matter of time. Research gets better and better every year. I know they've made improvements even since four years ago."

Half a million Canadians have Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia, according to the Alzheimer Society of Canada's website.

Howe is the only man to play in the NHL in five different decades, played the most seasons in the league at 26 and ranks second all-time in goals (801) and third all-time in points (1,850) behind Wayne Gretzky.