30 Days of Parkinson’s: How My Son and I Became Parkinson’s Ambassadors

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30 Days of Parkinson's

Photo courtesy of Kathy Rupnow

Day 9 of 30

This is Kathy Rupnow’s story:

Seven years ago, my son was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 38. When faced with that kind of news, what do you do?

For me, the answer was to “Google it,” and I found Parkinson Canada. I reached out to the charity and spoke to a counselor who gave me support and good advice. Eventually, my son also contacted the organization and benefited from their help for himself and his young family.

I volunteered to become a Parkinson’s Canada Ambassador, which means I get to meet with government representatives and let them know what people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers need. We know what we are up against — a disease that literally shakes up our world and no cure is in sight. Yes, there are treatments that address the myriad symptoms, but there are side effects and limits to their efficacy.

Our family was reeling from my son’s diagnosis. Some days we didn’t know what to do. But my son decided to do something. He started doing anything he could to raise funds to support people with Parkinson’s. He calls what he does “Moving Together for Parkinson’s.”

Fundraising has been at the core of my son’s efforts and raising awareness is also a high priority. He’s raised $6,000 by holding a virtual walk across Canada, a garage sale, a pancake breakfast, and bake sales. He’s also collected “Toonies for Tremors” at the mall. Every year, he gets our entire family to participate in the SuperWalk. We have every age group represented, from babies in strollers to grandparents with canes. We walk to help those who are afflicted with this challenging disease.

April is Parkinson’s month so we are holding our annual bottle drive. We have used the funds from these drives to support Parkinson’s charities and the World Parkinson Congress, and to help an individual who needed surgery. Soon (when we are past the COVID-19 pandemic), we will be working to start an exercise program for our community that will be geared toward the needs of those with Parkinson’s.

When faced with the news of a Parkinson’s diagnosis, what do you do? Do something! Do anything! And just keep moving together!

Parkinson’s News Today’s 30 Days of Parkinson’s campaign will publish one story per day for Parkinson’s Awareness Month in April. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #30DaysofPAR, or go here to see the full series. 

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