Third annual Super Walk raises awareness for Parkinson’s Disease

Members of the Napanee Parkinson's Support Group depart on the third annual Parkinson's Super Walk, held on Wednesday. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

Adam Prudhomme

Sporting matching blue shirts, members of Napanee’s Parkinson’s Support Community departed on a stroll through downtown to mark the third annual Parkinson’s Super Walk.

Prior to the walk, the group members collected pledges from friends and family, while donations were also accepted from passersby during Wednesday’s walk.

Napanee’s Super Walk is one of several that will be held throughout September across the country, with proceeds going to Parkinson’s Canada. Locally, the walks have generated over $7,000 for the cause over their three years.

“It’s a nice opportunity for the community to see people raising money for Parkinson’s because they all have their lovely Parkinson’s t-shirts,” said Diane Newman Reed, community development lead for the north and east region of Parkinson Canada, who was on hand for Wednesday’s walk in Napanee. “It’s a nice opportunity for people who are affected by Parkinson’s to come together and have an opportunity to walk and raise money.”

There was no set route for the Super Walk, leaving the walkers the option to walk as far as they were up to on that day.

The money raised will help those living with the ailment in a variety of ways.

“We fund seed research in Canada, but we also fund advocacy efforts,” explained Newman Reed. “We think it’s really important that everyone diagnosed with Parkinson’s can have timely access to a medical professional such as a neurologist or a movement disorder specialist. That’s not always the case right now. That’s one of the things that we’re advocating very strongly for, especially with an election coming up.”

Napanee’s walk began at the Napanee Area Community Health Centre, which is where the group meets the first Wednesday of every month, starting at 1:30 p.m. The meetings, which are a drop-in format, are open to anyone, whether they have Parkinson’s or know someone in their lives with the disease. The meetings feature guest speakers and offer a support network for people to share their experiences and offer advice for those unsure of what to expect when first diagnosed.

A lifelong, progressive disease, those diagnosed will see their symptoms worsen over time. There is still a great deal of uncertainty with a diagnosis however, as symptoms can range from tremors, walking or balance problems, depression and memory loss, among other issues.

“Everyone who lives with Parkinson’s has a different experience, it’s not the same in every body,” said Newman Reed. “(The support group members) do think it’s nice to be part of a community that understands the disease well and there’s a shared opportunity in that.”

An estimated 40,000 people in Ontario live with the disease.

“I think it affects a lot more than that because every person comes with their own community,” added Newman Reed.

That’s why Napanee’s Parkinson Support Group, which is one of 89 networks across the province, welcome everyone to their meetings. With help from friends and family, coupled with recent medical advancements, those living with Parkinson’s are reporting a much better quality of life. Events like last Wednesday’s walk will ideally lead to more breakthroughs and perhaps one day, a cure.

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