It was with great pride that Jenna Sigurdson’s parents, Karren and Blair, and her grandfather watched as she received the Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Award, Under 15, during the 2016 Manitoba Philanthropy Awards luncheon in Winnipeg last month.
Red River Cooperative senior staff, her school principal and two representatives of Parkinson Canada’s Manitoba office were also in attendance to honour Jenna. She has raised more than $50,000 for Parkinson Canada and she has increased awareness of the disease, which affects more than 6,500 people in the province and more than 100,000 across the country.
Five years ago, at the age of 10, Jenna learned that her Dad had young-onset Parkinson’s disease. Jenna decided to fundraise for the cause, to help those living with the disease and to fund research into better treatments and an eventual cure. She began by knocking on more than 2,000 doors in her community.
At age 11, Jenna combined her love of reading with the Parkinson’s cause and designed a signature bookmark and founded “Jenna’s Toonies for Tulips,” selling the bookmarks each year, through school campaigns and in partnership with local retailers. They are available for a minimum donation of $2 each.
Jenna also organizes a school assembly each April during Parkinson Awareness Month with a special speaker. Her various awareness and fundraising campaigns have brought Parkinson’s disease an enormous amount of media attention, increasing public awareness in the province.
“We are very grateful for all that Jenna has accomplished on behalf of people living with Parkinson’s in our community,” says Lorri Apps, Parkinson Canada’s Managing Director, Manitoba. “She is also an inspiration to others and an incredible example of the positive influence that young people can have on us all.”