By Terry O’Hearn
Pat Evans is determined to get the message out that those afflicted with Parkinson’s should consider being more open about having the disease. It might also help to seek the advice of a movement disorder specialist, and possibly join a support group. She stressed those things are needed in order to be “as healthy as you can be.”
Evans, along with her co-chair for the upcoming Parkinson SuperWalk, Gayle Truman, are working hard to get maximum exposure for the walk, which takes place at Perth’s Conlon Farm Recreation Complex on Sept. 9, at 9:30 a.m., rain or shine.
The SuperWalk is Parkinson Canada’s largest fundraising event, and in addition to raising funds, Evans hopes that it will raise awareness. More education is needed for both health care professionals and the general public, she stressed. Parkinson’s has the second highest rate of affliction, after Alzheimer’s, among movement disorders. More specialists are also needed.
Several high profile individuals will be on hand at the event, including Dr. David Grimes, who is well connected in the medical world and among several other positions is the director of the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Clinic at the Ottawa Hospital and co-director, Parkinson Research Consortium, University of Ottawa.
Also in attendance will be Margaux Wolfe, community development coordinator, Eastern Ontario, Parkinson Canada; and Patricia Boal, well-known CTV News at Six anchor.
Perth Mayor John Fenik will address those in attendance prior to the 10 a.m. start, and Perth Town Crier Brent McLaren will be on hand for a special cry.
Among the teams entered is Don’s Dream Team, headed by Lieutenant General (Ret’d) Donald McNaughton, CMM, CD, and his wife Fran.
At the time of writing they had managed to raise more than $2,500 in pledges. Evans will be marching with Pat’s Pacers. The local group “Tuesday Trekkers” also has a team entered.
Evans said that they have already raised well over $16,000 in donations and are aiming to reach $20,000. She joked that “maybe we should aim higher.”
“We know as well, that since we started planning this event six months ago, we have also raised awareness and identified many in the community who are living with Parkinson’s,” she added. “We hope that those individuals and families will get involved with our advocacy efforts to establish more services in Lanark North Leeds.”
Evans confirmed that meetings with local health officials have occurred, and the other SuperWalk organizers will continue to meet with those and other officials from Lanark North Leeds after the walk. One goal is to get easier access to a movement disorders specialist. Currently patients have to drive to Ottawa or Kingston. Other goals are Parkinson’s specific exercise programs, and more support groups.
Promoting the SuperWalk has given Evans and her committee the opportunity to talk about the ever-increasing numbers of people being diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Canada is seeing 25 people a day being diagnosed with Parkinson’s, but experts predict that within 15 years the number will double.
“It will be a fun day and inspirational for people with Parkinson’s and their families and friends,” said Evans.
The atmosphere is expected to be upbeat, with musicians Jamie Campbell and Sarah Foster performing for both spectators and participants. In addition, there will be a Tai Chi demonstration and a registered massage therapist. “Food will be available to those who have registered to walk, as well as a free T-shirt for those who raise $50 or more. Prizes go to the top fundraisers.”
Supporters are encouraged to register at: donations.parkinson.ca/lanarknorthleeds.
Another option is to just show up the day of the event with cash and/or cheques. Information about SuperWalk is available by calling Alan Muir at Parkinson Canada Ottawa Office at 1(800) 565-3000 ext 3427, or email: email@example.com