The debut of the Parkinson SuperWalk in Swift Current set a remarkable fundraising total, with an estimated 160 participants generating $14,000.
The impressive total from the September 2 event more than doubles the $6,000 which was collected annually during the first two years the fundraising walk was hosted in Herbert during 2015 and 2016.
“You guys blew away our goal by thousands,” Todd MacPherson, Parkinson Canada Managing Director, Saskatchewan, told Swift Current Walk Coordinator Barbara Foster, moments before announcing the total to the assembled group. “Our goal was hoping you’d reach $8,500, which was a big step up from last year.”
Foster said the move to Swift Current was made to help attract more sponsorship support and boost their fund-raising totals, but they did not have such lofty ambitions during the first year hosted in Swift Current.
“We were just overwhelmed with the turnout. We were hoping we were going to break $10,000, so to reach $14,000 is just super,” Foster said on Saturday.
The event was hosted at Riverview Village Estates, and Foster was thrilled by the number of participants.
“There was a lot of visiting and that’s what it’s about, it’s supporting people with Parkinson’s, having fun, and just having a day with friends and family that are effected with Parkinson’s,” she said.
Foster is one of the founding members of the Parkinson Support Group in Swift Current, and the group meets on the second Monday of each month in the Activity Room at The Meadows. They have been growing annually since starting up five years ago, clear evidence that there are lot of people impacted right within Swift Current and area.
“And we have a lot of newcomers, people who are newly diagnosed who are looking for information. And that’s one of the goals of the support group, is to provide information. But also to provide hope to people, so people know there still is life even though you have Parkinson’s.”
“But it changes. There’s a catch phrase in Parkinson Canada that says Parkinson’s changes everything. And it does. But it doesn’t mean you still can’t have a full life. And that’s what we want to show today. We can have fun and walk, so invite all your friends and have a big party, so that’s what we did.”
Parkinson’s is an incurable disorder of the central nervous system, and over 100,000 Canadians are dealing with symptoms of the disease. Parkinson’s primarily impacts an individual’s motor system, but there a number of other non-motors symptoms and complications which impact a person with the disease.
More than 25 people a day are diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and with an aging population that rate is anticipated to double by 2031.
The Parkinson’s SuperWalk is the largest fundraiser for Parkinson Canada, with $2.15 million raised by approximately 10,000 walkers across Canada during 2016.
MacPherson pointed out SuperWalk provides important funds for Parkinson Canada, the national voice for those living with Parkinson’s.
Parkinson Canada contributes between $1.5 million to $2 million annually for research. They provide education resources as the primary source of education for both individuals living with Parkinson’s as well as healthcare professionals. The funds also contribute to Parkinson support services, information and referral lines, support groups, plus 1-800 and on-line information services.
“Everything that a person with Parkinson’s needs, and their family members, we try to do our best to provide,” MacPherson said.
More importantly, the SuperWalk is an important morale booster for walk participants and their friends and family members.
“One of the advantages of having the SuperWalk in a smaller communities is it raises a whole different level of awareness,” MacPherson said.
“If you’re living with Parkinson’s, or if your spouse is living with Parkinson’s, this is your life 24/7. And it’s a battle, and it’s a struggle. And you don’t know if today is going to be a good day or a day you just struggle to get by and just do everyday things. Having this kind of family and friends and community come out, it just means the world to them. So many of our people just say that’s one of their biggest things, is they like to hear the dollars raised, but it’s also just the fact that people actually cared enough to come out, get involved, to give, to cheer them on, it means the world to us.”
Swift Current’s SuperWalk was the first of five scheduled for Saskatchewan this month, with upcoming walks in Moose Jaw, Regina, Saskatoon and Estevan this weekend.
Additional information about Parkinson Canada and the SuperWalk is available at www.parkinsonsuperwalk.ca.