© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
The team Walk This Way, consisting of from left front Cheryl MacSwain and Leon Deveau and from back left Darren Deveau, Lyne Chaisson, Heather Deveau-Rogers, Nancy White and Dianne Duncan with her dog Piper were all decked out in their finery.
Heavy rain and wind didn’t stop a group of dedicated individuals from raising funds to fight Parkinson’s disease this past Sunday.
More than 70 individuals took part in the Parkinson SuperWalk at the HMCS Queen Charlotte to raise funds and awareness for the neurodegenerative disease.
With the downpour keeping the walk from being held outside, participants ended up holding the event indoors.
Dan Steele, president of the P.E.I. Parkinson’s society, said the event sends a message to people like himself living with the disease.
“(The message) that there are people that care about them and support them in the community at large,” he said. “A lot of the people with Parkinson’s tend to shy away from society because they’re embarrassed about the mobility issues that accompany the disease. We need people in the general community to feel more comfortable with people with diseases like Parkinson’s so those people can feel they’re part of the community.”
Steele said the goal was to raise $30,000 on P.E.I. this year, with two SuperWalks having been held.
“I fully expect we’ll reach that,” he said, adding that the final numbers have yet to be counted.
The weekend included an inaugural SuperWalk in O’Leary, which raised $5,000.
Nearly half of the $30,000 target was raised by the event’s top fundraisers this year, mother and son duo Hazel MacMillan and John Blanchard.
The two have raised more than $54,000 for Parkinson’s in the past six years, including $12,220 this year alone.
Steele said MacMillan has also been a member of the SuperWalk planning committee and local Parkinson’s support group for many years.
“Both of them provide us with lots of financial and moral support,” said Steele. “We couldn’t do half of what we do without them.”
MacMillan and Blanchard were honoured at this year’s SuperWalk with a presentation from Steele and Lt.-Gov. Frank Lewis.
The two Charlottetown residents both said they got into fundraising for Parkinson’s because of friends who have had the disease.
“It’s a lot of hard work but I think it pays itself off in the end,” said Blanchard. “Hopefully we find a cure some day.”
MacMillan said they raise funds in a number of ways, including selling tickets as well as asking family members for donations.
“When I make a phone call they know what I want,” she said. “I hardly ever have anybody say no when I ask.”
MacMillan said she also gets donations at her work, Corney’s Shoe Store in Charlottetown, where individuals from across Canada have supported the cause.
“Customers from all over come in and if they have Parkinson’s in their family they usually donate,” she said.