All across Canada on the weekend of September 8th and 9th, people walked to fundraise for Parkinson’s with funds going to research, support services, education and advocacy.
Three walks were held across Grey-Bruce and, in Saugeen Shores, some 60 people came out for the 18th annual walk. Formerly held in Kincardine, this year marks the third walk to be held at North Shore Park in Port Elgin (Saugeen Shores), with walkers raising over $18,000 and with pledges still coming in until the end of the month – DONATE. The dollars raised remain in southwestern Ontario and the 2018 goal is $450,000.
At the walk, many return each year, including the Cotie family lead by Pastor Bob Cotie, and Leo and Tilly Butler who, this year raised $1,000. Scottish piper Steve Wolfe started the walk off with traditional bag-piping.
Parkinson’s shows no social, ethnic, economic or geographic boundaries. Approximately 10,000 individuals currently live with Parkinson’s disease in Southwestern Ontario. Symptoms typically begin to appear at age 55 to 60 years, although 10% of all people diagnosed with Parkinson’s will be under the age of 40. Currently, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease.
The progressive neurological disorder results from the loss of dopamine (a chemical messenger) in a part of the brain called the ‘substantia nigra’. At sufficient levels, dopamine allows nerve impulses to travel from one nerve cell to another, creating smooth and coordinated movement. Parkinson’s disease causes nerve cells in the ‘substantia nigra’ to become impaired or to die, resulting in diminished levels of dopamine. This lack of dopamine results in the adverse motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s.
As dopamine levels decrease, many adverse motor and non-motor symptoms arise. Primary symptoms associated with Parkinson’s include tremor, rigidity, akinesia (lack of movement), bradykinesia (slow, stiff movement), postural instability, loss of balance control, soft speech, writing problems and sleep disturbances. Non-motor symptoms can include depression, anxiety, psychosis, dementia, memory problems and difficulty with communication.
Among the most famous who have been affected by Parkinson’s is actor Michael J. Fox and boxer Muhammad Ali.
Current research projects are aiming to form a deeper understanding of the causes and the treatment options for people living with Parkinson’s.