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Parkinson Superwalk raises research funds in Vernon’s Polson Park

Parkinson Society British Columbia hopes to raise $300K to help find a cure for Parkinson’s disease
Roughly 75 people showed up to help raise money for Parkinson’s disease research during the Parkinson Superwalk in Vernon Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

People in Vernon turned up at Polson Park Saturday to take part in a nationwide effort to raise money for Parkinson’s disease research.

Roughly 75 people took part in the Parkinson Superwalk, the biggest annual fundraising event for Parkinson Society British Columbia. As of Saturday morning, the society had raised 90 per cent of its of its fundraising goal of $300,000. Canada-wide, the Superwalk has raised 64 per cent of its goal of $1.5 million.

Organizer Laura Wilson was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2014 when she was 55.

“I was one of the young ones,” she said. “We have one person in Vernon who was diagnosed at 32, so it doesn’t discriminate. It can happen at any age.”

Wilson said she was heartened by the turnout of people who spent their Saturday morning doing laps around the Polson Park field and bringing in funds for Parkinson’s research.

“I just love Vernon and all the support we’ve had,” she said. “It’s just a great family, team-building community event.”

The Vernon Snowflakes flying team flew over the park around 10:30 a.m. Their flight was dedicated to the five “warriors” who lost their lives to Parkinson’s over the last two years: Robert McDougall, William Kehler, Karen Whittle, Rodney Vance and John Lawson.

Ralph Whittle with the Vernon Lions Club was present to help the club cook a pancake breakfast for the event attendees. Whittle’s wife Karen passed away from Parkinson’s in February.

“It’s a rough day for me today,” said an emotional Whittle. “(The support) is fantastic. Every year it’s really good. The support in this town is great.”

Event volunteer Judy Tancock said she got involved because her husband was diagnosed 11 years ago.

“It’s just a gradual decline … so you see your person you’ve lived with for years just slowly disappearing on you,” she said.

In addition to those who attended the Superwalk, Tancock thanked the “hundreds” of people who donated online.

There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, which affects about 15,000 British Columbians and 100,000 Canadians each year.

More than 20 communities in the province took part in this year’s Superwalk, including Kelowna, Kamloops and Oliver.

The event runs Sept. 10 and 11. To register or to donate, click here.

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Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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