Manitobans working together to create memory box for Jets fan with dementia

Two Manitoba women are asking the public for help in filling a memory box for a man with dementia – who is also the ultimate Winnipeg Jets fan.

Lisa Munson said she learned about Ross Hawkins through his sister Barb Cnockaert.

Munson explained she was giving away some Winnipeg Jets keepsakes online when Cnockaert messaged her about her brother’s love for the team.

“Barb had sent me a message after that and she gave me insight about her brother, Ross. She said he gets excited with anything to do with the Jets,” Munson said in an interview last month.

“Her brother is 62 years old. He has Down syndrome and he’s in the early middle stages of Alzheimer’s.”

Cnockaert told Munson she wanted to create a memory box for her brother and fill it to the brim

“Now that he’s forgetting or he’s more…in the moment, I just want to be able to create all these memories with him, and to put them in a box that maybe he wouldn’t be able to open at some point, but I can. I can enjoy and reminisce about all the wonderful times that we had together,” Cnockaert said.

Munson said she was intrigued by the idea of a memory box and wanted to do everything she can to help the family.

“The sense of humour that [Hawkins and Cnockaert] both have together, it’s absolutely amazing to see that and to witness it. It totally just warms your heart,” Munson said.

One of the ways that Munson and Cnockaert are trying to fill Hawkins’ memory box is by collecting various Winnipeg Jets items.

“He is definitely a lover of the Jets,” Cnockaert said of her brother.

She added that Hawkins insists on wearing matching Winnipeg Jets-themed clothing.

“Since COVID hit and his memory has declined, that’s all he thinks about is the Jets,” Cnockaert said.

She said she has been running out of Jets items to give to her brother, which is why she put the call out to others online.

Cnockaert said she has been moved by the kindness and generosity of others, noting that Hawkins has been given items such as blankets, shirts, towels and socks.

“He’s just so bubbly. When someone gives him something, he’s so thankful. If it’s the Jets, he just gets so excited about it,” she said.

One thing Cnockaert would love to do for her brother is to get a picture of him with his favourite team.

“He would just be over the moon I think, seeing all the Jets jerseys and everybody wearing them,” she said.

For those who want to help contribute to the memory box, Cnockaert said anything would be appreciated. She noted some items he would like are Jets-themed posters, binders, cards, duct tape, stickers, ties, logos and decorations.

“It doesn’t have to be big, just bringing him a pair of socks with the Jets logo on it, he gets so excited. He’s just an awesome guy, he really is,” she said.

Cnockaert added that her brother has taught her to live in the moment and be thankful.

“He teaches me that I need to be open and enjoy the moment, not have expectations for tomorrow because we don’t know,” she said.

Cnockaert said she wants to ensure Hawkins has the happiest days he can until he doesn’t remember them.

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