Gayle Truman and Pat Evans at last year's Parkinson SuperWalk Photo Credit: Brent Van Hooft

The second annual Parkinson Canada SuperWalk Lanark North Leeds is set for September 8, in Perth. The relaxed two km walk is organized in many communities throughout the country to raise awareness and money for Parkinson’s Disease research, support and outreach. “The day marks an opportunity for people with Parkinson’s Disease to come together for a common purpose; to raise funds and awareness while having fun at the same time,” says Parkinson SuperWalk Lanark North Leeds co-chair Gayle Truman.

Last year’s SuperWalk in Perth was a great success, with 100 participants and over $31,000 raised. “We would like to meet, or surpass, what we made last year,” says Pat Evans, one of the organizers of the walk, adding that they would also like to encourage even more people to come out to the event. “Coming together is powerful in many ways,” she says. “The whole business about getting together is just as important as money raised.”

Pat is a person with Parkinson’s and a passionate advocate for the diagnosis and treatment of the disease in rural areas. She says that too many people go undiagnosed because they are afraid of addressing the symptoms once they arise. Isolation, lack of services and fear of being judged by their peers or healthcare professionals also contributes to the delay in the diagnosis of people in rural areas. “While there is no cure for this chronic and progressive neurological disorder, early identification and diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease is important, so that people can educate themselves about what they can do to help delay the disease,” she says.

Parkinson’s is the second most common neurological disease, with over 100,000 people living with it in Canada. It is estimated that by 2031 the number of people with Parkinson’s in Canada will double, and that that the Counties of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville, with the highest number of seniors in Ontario, will face a particular challenge. “We need to be thinking about creative ways of bringing services to rural settings,” Pat says. This includes specialists, treatment options and support groups for people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers.

Pat hopes that continued walks will break down barriers, increase rates of early diagnosis, and bring much needed services to rural areas. “Education, awareness, and being part of a group where you can benefit from others’ experience is just so valuable,” she says. “It’s that feeling of solidarity you get from being around people who understand what you are going through.”

The Parkinson SuperWalk Lanark North Leeds will be held on Saturday, September 8, at Conlon Farm (109 Smith Drive) in Perth, starting at 10 am. Pat is encouraging anyone interested to sign up in advance and start a fundraising page online. The day will include the walk, food, music, and lots of information about Parkinson’s Disease identification and treatment.

To sign up, as an individual or team, or for more information about how to donate, contact Alan Muir at 1-800-565-3000 ext. 3427, or visit www.donate.parkinson.ca/larnarknorthleeds.

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