Parkinson SuperWalk brings support to region

Around 100 people came out for the Parkinson Canada SuperWalk last year in Morden. (LAUREN MACGILL, Morden Times)

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It’s been 15 years since she started organizing the Parkinson SuperWalk in Morden, but Lenore Laverty shows no signs of stopping.

Laverty has been organizing the Morden SuperWalk since 2003. Her brother Ron was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2002. “It was fresh and new to our family,” she said. “I thought, ‘Well, what can I do to support him?’”

Parkinson’s is a chronic, degenerative neurological disease characterized by a loss of dopamine in the brain. There is no known cause or cure.

Symptoms include tremors, slowness of movement, stiffness or rigidity of muscles, difficulty with balance and walking as well as changes in voice volume and speech. Non-motor symptoms include depression, loss of sense of smell, sleep disturbances and cognitive changes. The average age of onset is 60, but it is diagnosed in people as young as 20 and under.

At the time Pat Plett was running a support group for Parkinson’s, and so Laverty and Plett decided to put together a SuperWalk for the region.

Since then, the walk has been growing steadily and bringing out hundreds for a good cause. “Even the first one was quite surprising, there was quite a number of people,” she said. “We get about 100 people, and it’s pretty consistent. There’s quite a number of people who have been on the walk every year since we started, and other families come and go.”

Laverty said it’s always good to see people coming out to support the walk. “It’s a good energy as people gather for the walk,” she said. “I think it’s meaningful for the people with Parkinson’s too, that people are rallying around and supporting them.”

Parkinson Canada managing director Lorri Apps said that volunteers are the heart and soul of the charity. “We are most appreciative of Lenore and her team of volunteers, who have brought so many people to the SuperWalk in Morden,” she said. “They participated in and contributed to the Parkinson Canada SuperWalk over the years and are passionate about raising funds for people living with Parkinson’s to have the opportunities to gather and receive support services in the Pembina Valley.”

In Manitoba, there is an estimated 6,800 individuals diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease. The number of Manitobans suffering from Parkinson’s disease is expected to double in the next 14 years.

Last year, the walk raised $35,553 to support client services, education from health professionals, advocacy and research into Parkinson’s disease.

Laverty said she hopes to keep organizing the walks in the future. “It raises awareness of the disease,” she said. “I think that when you really notice that there’s a Parkinson’s walk is when someone in your family has been newly diagnosed and it comes home to you. But for the general public it raises awareness of the issues around the disease.”

“The walk is [Parkinson Canada’s] major fundraiser across Canada,” she added. “They’re raising money for research and also for programs to support people with Parkinson’s. It is a pretty big deal to raise funds.”

This year’s SuperWalk in Morden is on Sept. 15 at Morden Mennonite Church (363 Gilmour Street.) Registration starts at 9:00 a.m. and the walk begins at 10:00. Participants can also register at www.parkinsonsuperwalk.ca.

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