By Terry O’Hearn
Pat Evans is quick to encourage anyone who has Parkinson’s Disease to go public about it. It helps raise awareness about the prevalence of the nasty affliction, and she points out that the Parkinson’s problem is only going to get worse as our population ages.
Evans would also like you to come to the Lanark-North Leeds Parkinson SuperWalk on Saturday, Sept. 9, at Conlon Farm Recreation Complex in Perth. Registration is at 9:30 a.m. and the walk will start 10 a.m. The contact for more information is Alan Muir at 800-565-3000 Ext. 3427, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The walk is approved and supported by Lanark-North Leeds Parkinson’s, and while this is the inaugural walk for Perth, there are 68 other walks across the country.
Evans is chair of the organizing committee for the local SuperWalk, and her friend Gayle Truman is co-chair. Although the ladies are described as volunteers, it becomes obvious they are working pretty much full time with local support groups and organizing the walk.
The hope is that by building awareness, increased services will be brought to people who live in Lanark-North Leeds. The local support groups in Almonte and Perth are promoted by Community Home Support Services of Parkinson’s Canada.
Parkinson’s affects mainly the elderly population, and it has proved to be more prevalent in the rural population, perhaps in part because of pesticides. There is a need to create more support groups and more exercise programs, with better access to movement disorder specialists.
Both Evans and Truman were diagnosed with Parkinson’s years ago, but have done remarkably well of staving off progression of the disease. Their enthusiasm for both the upcoming walk, and year round commitment to volunteer work, becomes infectious. It is safe to say that their work and that of fellow volunteers will be a factor in the taming of Parkinson’s.
The SuperWalk will allow people to walk for pledges or form a team, or just pledge. There are loops around the perimeter of Conlon Farm of shorter and longer distances, and those who have never been to the recreation complex will be treated to a view of one of Perth’s gems. Entertainment will be taking place, and the popular CTV news anchor Patricia Boal is the emcee.
Among local celebrities taking part will be the affable Lieutenant General (Ret’d) Donald McNaughton, CMM, CD, and his equally personable wife Fran, as members of “Don’s Dream Team”, which includes family and friends. Don makes no bones about having Parkinson’s, and he manages it very well through exercise and other forms of therapy. Don and Fran feel they can help fund research by taking part, and “the more publicity for Parkinson’s the better.”
The urgency of curtailing the effects of Parkinson’s and its cousin Alzheimer’s is apparent when looking at the numbers of people being diagnosed each day. Those numbers are expected to double in about 14 years, and Evans says support, medical services, advocacy and research need to be funded now. That is why she chose to organize a local SuperWalk, and stresses that a donation of any amount will make a difference.
It would be worthwhile to join with other SuperWalkers on Saturday, Sept. 9. Even if you are not familiar with the disease now, the odds are very high that Parkinson’s will affect you or your family at some point in your lifespan. Hope to see you there.