Parkinson Alberta launches new name and charity walk

  • Apr. 3, 2013 3:04 p.m.

April is Parkinson Awareness Month, when Parkinson organizations around the world draw attention to Parkinson disease, a neurodegenerative brain disorder that has no known cause or cure.

This year, Parkinson Alberta is kicking off its awareness campaign with news of a name change and a new charity walk.

‘Albertans helping Albertans’ is the focus of the re-branded Parkinson Alberta Association. Organizers say the charity has strong roots in the province and has been serving as the voice of Albertans affected by Parkinson disease since 1973.

With a renewed focus on broadening its reach in the province, it is now positioned to become an even stronger advocate for the thousands of Albertans living with the disease, officials say.

This past January, the Parkinson Alberta Society board of directors voted to disaffiliate from Parkinson Society Canada. Independence from a national body ensures 100% of funds raised in Alberta will stay in Alberta.

“The core of who we are and what we do has not changed and will not diminish,” said John Petryshen, Parkinson Alberta CEO.

“In fact, we are excited to share that we are now better situated to provide more of the exceptional services Albertans expect from us and to fulfill our full mandate of serving our province.”

Parkinson Alberta provides educational resources, support groups, counselling, speech, movement and art therapy programs among a host of other services at sites across Alberta.

Albertans can also look forward to the Parkinson Step ‘n Stride: Moving Albertans Forward. The fundraiser walk is expected to draw more than 1,500 participants across eight communities on Sept. 7-8.

Parkinson disease is a progressive brain disorder. It’s the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s disease.

Parkinson disease affects both motor and non-motor functioning caused by a loss of dopamine in the brain.

The average age of diagnosis with Parkinson disease is 60 years, but about 10% of individuals are diagnosed before the age of 40. More than half are diagnosed before retirement age. Men and women are equally affected. Approximately 100,000 people in Canada and 8,000 in Alberta have Parkinson disease.

It is the mission of Parkinson Alberta to provide hope for people living with the disease, their families and caregivers through support, education, advocacy, and the designation of funds for research. Parkinson Alberta receives no government support.

A local education and support group runs the third Wednesday of the month at the Davenport Church of Christ (68 Donlevy St). The meetings run from 1:30–3:30 p.m. For more information, call 403-346-4463.

For more on Parkinson disease, Parkinson Alberta and the Parkinson Alberta Step ‘n Stride: Albertans Moving Forward walks, visit