Walk in the Park for Parkinson’s goes virtual

September 10, 2021 BY

Carmen Zajac and Ben Harris dress up for the occasion. Photo: SUPPLIED

A COMMUNITY walk for Parkinson’s disease is going ahead despite almost being cancelled due to COVID restrictions.

A Walk in the Park is an opportunity for Geelong, Bellarine and Surf Coast residents to raise funds and awareness for people living with Parkinson’s.

The event was initially scheduled for Sunday, September 12, at Geelong’s Eastern Park Circuit.

But to ensure compliance with health directions the event has gone ‘virtual’ and participants will now walk two kilometres around their own neighbourhood and then post highlights on social media.

Organiser Kirsten George has attended around 10 of the annual walk events and is motivated in part by her personal connection to Parkinson’s.

“My father, Graeme, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s almost 20 years ago and these last two years have brought the most challenges,” Kirsten said.

“Medication changes have enabled him to continue ‘living his life’ but it took a long time to come into effect and get him back to ‘his normal’.”

(LtoR) Travis Hemley, Kaye Hemley, Graeme Hemley, Kirsten George and Chris Hemley. Photo: SUPPLIED.

Earlier this year balance issues brought on by Parkinson’s caused Graeme to fall and break his hip.

Whilst Graeme’s hip is healing, the progression of his Parkinson’s has meant that there will be a long, slow road to recovery.

“He has recently had to move into aged care due to his ‘high falls’ risk,” Kirsten said.

“This has been a massive change to his life and that of his wife of over 50 years and his three children,” she said.

Kirsten has so far hosted two events that raised close to $40,000 for Parkinson’s Victoria.

“I want to raise the profile of Parkinson’s Victoria in the Geelong area,” she said.

“We want to make sure Dad knows that he is supported every step of his Parkinson’s journey.

“By organising A Walk in the Park Geelong, I am supporting Dad, raising awareness and fundraising to support the invaluable work of Parksinon’s Victoria.”

More than 27,000 people in Victoria are living with Parkinson’s and approximately 38 new cases are diagnosed every day. Parkinson’s is the second most common neurological disease in Australia after dementia.

Homestyle Aged Care has signed on as a major supporter of the walk.

Client Services manager Mark Saunderson said he was pleased to be able to show support.”Homestyle staff will walk with clients and their own families to support A Walk in the Park Geelong.”

John Eren, the State Member for Lara, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s late in 2019 and is the Ambassador for the 2021 virtual event in Geelong.

“I want to thank the entire team at Parkinson’s Victoria for their hard work in providing a much-needed service for people living with Parkinson’s and their families,” he said.

If you are interested in registering, donating or volunteering in A Walk in the Park Geelong on September 12 visit the website at parkinsonswalkgeelong.com.au.