No Parkinson’s SuperWalk but fundraising ongoing

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by Sally Smith

Photo: Brad sits comfortably on the outside porch of his old stone house near Frankville.

It took some time for Brad Daily to truly accept he had Parkinson’s Disease…almost two years. Sitting at the side of his old stone house in Frankville that he and his partner have just sold, he says, a little diffidently, “I’m probably coming out of it now.”

But he’s been through a long period of adjustment, and he’s very candid when he talks about the last 24 months. “It seemed to be sudden…the tremoring”, and he couldn’t stop it. “It was quite a process to be diagnosed. I went to see my family doctor, said I had a tremor, was told to come back in six weeks to see if it was any different. It was the same, not gone. I was sent for an MRI, sent to see a neurologist, and was basically told ‘Okay you have Parkinson’s…’

“The appointment was less than 15 minutes. I was told I was in the early stages, this is the honeymoon, and they’d see me in a couple of months.

“My grandfather had Parkinson’s, so I was a little bit familiar with it. I knew it wasn’t good, it wasn’t going to get better, only worse. I do remember my grandfather’s tremors. At the end, before he died, he was probably having hallucinations.”

Within himself, Brad sensed something was wrong even before a diagnosis. He thought it was “work stress”, stemming from his work as a CPA with multi-national businesses. What he was feeling then, he’s attributing to early stages of Parkinson’s Disease now.

And he admits quite openly that when he and his partner, Dale, began their research on the Internet …“It was confusing, a lot of doom and gloom. I went through a long period of adjustment…depression…asking what does this mean.”

He and Dale Horeczy, both 58, owned Kricklewood Farm in Frankville until recently. Probably readers know it as the Sunflower Farm where visitors could have pictures taken amongst the giant flowers; for several years Brad and Dale hosted an annual Sunflower Festival.

Last year, the field was too wet to plant, and with the diagnosis of Parkinson’s, the two have been re-thinking their future. “A lot of our business has been translated into ‘value-added’ products using sunflower oil.” Kricklewood Farm products are sold at the Garden Market and the Independent in Smiths Falls, in Ottawa at the Metro and Sobeys, at Foodsmiths in Perth, and Mrs. McGarrigle’s in Merrickville.

Ask why the interest in sunflowers, and Brad settles back in his chair a bit, a small grin, and says “Dale and I grew up on the prairies…there are a lot of sunflowers there. We read an article in the paper about a farmer in Quebec growing sunflowers and making cold pressed oil”.

“We can do that…” they said. That’s why sunflowers.

With the farm sold, the two are now looking to downsize from the 100 acre Kricklewood to somewhere between Kingston, Merrickville, and Perth. They want to stay in the area.

All this makes Brad one of Lanark North Leeds’ local heroes; last year, Parkinson Canada’s SuperWalk raised $73,000 from the area. This year, however, the National Office of Parkinson’s Canada has decided “that for the remainder of 2020, all Parkinson Canada community gatherings and events, including SuperWalk and support groups, will be provided through virtual platforms (where available).”

And even though there will be no ‘walk’, the fundraising campaign will go ahead full-tilt. Raising funds and awareness is more important than ever. Online donations are encouraged and support is available to assist people to raise funds online.

Parkinson’s is the second most common neurological disease, with over 100,000 people living with it in Canada. It is chronic and progressive. Symptoms continue and worsen over time. These range from loss of smell and muscle rigidity, to tremor and depression. The average age of diagnosis is 62 with 30% diagnosed before the age of 50. By 2031, it is predicted that the number will double; keeping this in mind, the County of Lanark Leeds and Grenville, with the highest percentage of seniors in Ontario (and already under-serviced), will face a particular challenge.

If anything good has come out of the diagnosis of Parkinson’s for Brad, he says he’s more honest with himself…he’s slowed down. Looking back, he recognizes things he could have improved on at the time, and now that he has more time, he thinks about ‘changing things’ as he moves forward. Is it working?

“I hope so,” he says, with a slow smile.

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