Donut Button
Donut Button

Meeting Canadians with Parkinson’s

Mark, Mike #3 and Mike #1 three guys united by Parkinson's

Part of my task on this Journey, besides keeping Jim and Steve moving, will be to conduct interviews with people living with Parkinson’s.

To this end, when we checked into our last RV Park before Victoria, the lady at the desk mentioned that there was a gentleman with Parkinson’s living at the park. Not one to pass up an opportunity, I asked for an introduction.

A half hour later, and I was conducting my first interview with Mark and his wife Coreen. Mark had been living with Parkinson’s for quite a while. For his own reasons he did not begin taking levodopa (a practice that can be all too common with the newly diagnosed). Mark began to deteriorate quickly to the point of requiring a walker and a wheel chair. Feeling like it was a last resort, Mark began taking Parkinson’s medication. Soon Mark felt better, regained energy and abilities. Just hearing how Mark and Coreen dealt with those struggles was interesting enough, but there is more.

Mark and Coreen have spent many years in Romania (Mark holds dual citizenship). They raise funds and travel to Romania to assist Romanian orphans. They adopted and raised some as their own. With the onset of Covid and Mark’s decline the couple had to step back from their compassionate work.

I was very pleased and inspired to hear that Mark and Coreen are planning an 8 week trip back to Romania. They realize that they will not be able to do as much as they did in their prior visits, due to Mark’s Parkinson’s and energy levels. This trip will be different as they are intending to help with the influx of refugees entering Romania from the Ukraine.

These are the stories I want to help bring to life. Parkinson’s is a terrible nasty disease. It can be managed with medication, exercise and support. The compassion and work being done by Mark and Coreen is so amazing.

If you wish to learn more or assist in their work, please visit www.hftn.ro.

Interviewing Mike and Coreen

4 Responses

  1. What you four are doing is important enough – but to be able to connect with people and add even more depth to people in Parkinson’s and all the good they are doing is so wonderful. Well done, Mike.

  2. I saw your plan to cross Canada as awareness and thus fund raising. I see know that your mission is far beyond dollars and cents and news stories. You are touching lives and providing purpose and hope. I am so proud of you. Thank you for your compassion.

  3. I’m with Krista! Mike, the community that you are already building this way promises to be a powerhouse. I can’t wait to get to know more of your new friends and hear about their experiences. It is wonderful to sense how much inspiration you are about to unleash.

  4. Mike, I’ve got to say how impressed I am with you and your wife Darlene’s dedication and support on this Epic ride. You both have my love and respect. Please have a safe and wonderful journey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Why We Are Doing it

You have probably heard of Parkinson’s Disease. You may even know people who suffer from it.  Get used to it, as Parkinson’s Disease is the world’s fastest growing neurological condition, set to double in number by 2040.

Parkinson’s Disease occurs when the brain’s dopamine-producing cells die prematurely. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter necessary for many functions of the brain and body, including muscular control, and its loss affects all forms of movement and balance, as well as non-motor functions such as memory, concentration and motivation.  Think of dopamine as the electricity in an electric car: without it, the lights dim and the wheels stop spinning.

There is currently no cure, no bio-markers to aid detection, and little is known about how it is triggered, except that Canadians are disproportionately afflicted

Most people living with Parkinson’s reduce or even discontinue regular intensive physical activity after their Parkinson’s diagnosis.  Why?  Their actual skills and abilities do not suddenly evaporate on the date of their diagnosis, though their mental fortitude often does.  As a result, many abandon the very restorative health practices, such as regular exercise, when they are needed the most.  For people with Parkinson’s, intensive exercise can boost energy, sharpen the mind, elevate spirits and keep the body mobile.  Studies indicate that intense exercise can help train the Parkinson’s afflicted brain to use dopamine more efficiently and be able to do more with less.

Let’s use the dopamine we have to build the lives we want.

What are We Doing

Canada is a big country.  It is home to over 100,000 people living with Parkinson’s disease, 9 in 10 of which suffer in silence, isolation, or without the support of a knowledgeable organization or community.  Starting in June 2022, we aim to cross our big country by bicycle to meet as many of these people as possible to personally deliver this message: get moving to stay moving.  

We start In Victoria, British Columbia and ride east through every Canadian province, and hundreds of cities and towns along the way.  Our route is approximately 8,000 km, and we expect to average 125 km a day, six days a week for approximately three months.  Our Spinning Wheels Tour team will include two riders with Parkinson’s Disease, as well as two ride-along supporters to keep things moving.  Along the way, we will be meeting with people whose lives are touched by Parkinson’s, and encourage them to get moving with us, get engaged in support communities, and to set up their own group athletics.

We are not athletes, just people with the resolve to do what it takes to live well with this disease, and to encourage others..  

Along the way, we hope to hear these words, “If they can do it, I can too.”