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Steve’s Story (The Story of Sail On With Parkinson’s)

One year after Steve Van Vlaenderen realized his dream of owning a sailboat, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. If that news wasn't enough, it was also suggested that he give up sailing.

That was seven years ago. The Winnipegger didn't listen to his doctors, and he certainly didn't give up on his dream. On June 18, the 68-year-old yachtsman heads out on the first leg on a trip through the Great Lakes to raise awareness about Parkinson's.

"I’m hoping that Sail on with Parkinson’s will encourage people to look at and better understand what Parkinson’s is - because it isn’t one thing — it’s multiple conditions at the same time," Van Vlaenderen said. "Parkinson’s is like an iceberg; 10 percent is above the surface that people can see, like the tremors, and 90 percent is below the water level."

Steve Van Vlaenderen and Darlene Hildebrand plan to embark on a two year epic sailing excursion around Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence River, finishing in Montreal.

2018 Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron

2019 Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence River

This mission cannot be achieved without the support of volunteers, donors, partner organizations, and sponsors. Click here to learn how you can help Steve, Darlene, and Parkinson Canada.

Steve Van Vlaenderen

Steve Van Vlaenderen (68) is an entrepreneur, amateur photographer, writer, speaker, sports enthusiast and Parkinson Ambassador. Steve took up sailing for the first time in 2010, purchasing a 31ft Niagara Hinterhoeller racing cruiser.

In 2011 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Against his doctor’s recommendation he continued to advance his sailing skills; sailing on Lake Winnipeg with the dream of someday sailing the Great Lakes.

Darlene Hildebrand

Darlene Hildebrand (65) recently retired as Director of Victoria Lifeline a not for profit community service providing personal medical alarm services. Prior to Victoria Lifeline she worked for 30 years in the financial industry. Darlene took up sailing for the first time in 2010