Do something grand this Grandparents’ Day

Paul and Barbara Kent with family members at Parkinson SuperWalk 2016.
Paul Kent with family members at Parkinson SuperWalk 2016.

On September 10, 2017, Canadians will celebrate National Grandparents’ Day. Parkinson Canada invites families to honour their grandparents by signing up today for Parkinson SuperWalk.  Now in its 27th year, the grand event takes place in communities across Canada on Saturday, September 9 and Sunday, September 10.

“You and your family can become everyday heroes inspiring hope for other families living with Parkinson’s,” says Jon Collins, Associate Director, Events & Partnerships, Parkinson Canada. “It’s a fun way for family members of all ages to spend time together in a relaxed setting, celebrating Grandparents’ Day, and raising funds and awareness for a special cause.”

Grandparents Paul and Barbara Kent from Dartmouth agree. They’ve taken part in Parkinson SuperWalk in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for seven years now. Paul was diagnosed at age 55 with corticobasal ganglionic degeneration (CBD) an atypical Parkinson disorder. And brother-in-law Bob Shaw’s wife also lives with Parkinson’s. “There are two of us in our family living with the disease, but everyone in our extended family is affected and involved in supporting this cause,” says Paul.

The Kents have two grown daughters Julia, 29, and Jessica 26. Julia’s toddler son Jordan and husband Jason will walk with the Kent Supporters team, captained by Paul. Julia will join them if she is able; she is expecting her second child this fall. Jessica will also join the family team for SuperWalk, along with other friends and family members.

Bob Shaw, Managing Director, Parkinson Canada, Atlantic Canada, and his wife put together their own team and there is a friendly fundraising competition between the family teams. Last year, the Kent Supporters raised $7,500 for Parkinson Canada, just behind Bob’s team. “It would be great to beat them this year,” says Paul.

Everyone pitches in raising money for the team, and son-in-law Jason asks many of his work contacts for their support, says Paul.

Paul’s CBD first appeared as pain in one arm, gradually developing into a tremor, with the pain persisting to this day. He also began to notice cognitive changes and setting priorities became challenging. He left his CEO position at the end of 2014. He also experiences anxiety. While levodopa does not benefit all people with CBD, it does help Paul somewhat and he takes four levodopa pills a day and a muscle relaxant at night to help him sleep. He takes medication for his anxiety. And every 120 days, he receives a series of Botox injections at several body points to help with his condition.

So far, Paul does not have trouble walking. Barbara notes that it is curious that her husband can climb stairs two at a time, yet cannot speak on the phone when he’s holding the receiver. He can talk on the phone easily when using the speaker function. Changing temperatures, stress and fatigue all impact his days. On a recent extended cruise in the Mediterranean, the temperate weather and relaxing atmosphere meant the couple enjoyed the ship’s entertainment and dancing almost every evening.

Although Paul lives with almost constant pain, and struggles with simple tasks like dressing and eating, “he rarely complains,” says Barbara. “I know the time will come when he’ll need my help more often, and others have told me that he’ll appreciate my help as it becomes more necessary. For now, I wait for him to ask for it. That can be difficult.”

“It’s wonderful for us to have family and friends take part in SuperWalk with us, knowing they are supporting Paul and me too, as his wife,” says Barbara.

Every hour, of every day, another Canadian hears the words: “You have Parkinson’s disease.” For people newly diagnosed, Parkinson SuperWalk is a great opportunity to meet others living with the disease and their families and to begin to build a supportive network. It’s a very hopeful event with people living with the disease participating. Funds raised are invested in communities across Canada to provide services, education and advocacy to support people affected by Parkinson’s. Funds raised are also invested in the Parkinson Canada Research Program, so that researchers can identify pathways to improve treatments and find a cure.

You and your family can join Paul and Barbara and their extended family and become an everyday hero, inspiring hope for Canadians living with Parkinson’s, as well as their families and caregivers. Make your grandparents proud and register today for a fun, family outing with a special purpose. Or contact Parkinson Canada at 1-800-565-3000 for details about a Parkinson SuperWalk location near you.