Your Inspiration

Rudy Erfle - Rudy's Run

Rudy Erfle and Artemis Erfle are a dynamic couple driven by the love of their family to empower their community and people impacted by Parkinson’s. Fourteen years ago, Rudy first noticed a tremor in his hand while playing summer hockey. The diagnosis of Parkinson's at the age of 47 came as a shock to Rudy and his family, as he had always been active and was younger than the average Parkinson's diagnosis.

After telling the kids immediately, their daughter Marina, who was thirteen, asked, “is Daddy going to die?” Naturally, this close-knit family was upset. For weeks, Artemis was taken aback, but she eventually realized that “nothing changed from yesterday to today, so we can just deal with it, one day at a time.” Rudy himself, after his first Parkinson Canada run, decided to “live in the moment and make a conscious decision not to complain. There is always someone off worse than you, so you have to make the best of it. You have to accept things and work towards a positive change.”

Following a diagnosis, many people cut down their activities and avoid seeing people. “You start to create your own storyline” explains Rudy, “When you tell yourself life is awful, you start to lose hope. You withdraw. In the beginning, I wanted to quit everything. You shouldn’t quit what you love.”

Rudy's family originally insisted that he retire from his own business, Rudy Erfle Woodcraft and Cabinetry, building kitchen cabinets, and bathroom vanities, and take it easy but he persisted. He knew keeping busy would keep him in better shape, mentally and physically. Although Rudy is retired now, he is still involved in building. Artemis emphasizes, “People shouldn't assume that those with Parkinson's are incapable of doing anything. You do need the support of people around you, but people do need to be patient and let a person with Parkinson’s show up.”

Rudy noticed in getting out there “that you have to be smart about adjusting and inventing solutions. Travelling, especially through an airport, could be awkward. I make it easy for myself, whether it’s equipping my cane with a stick to guide me or just asking for help. Once people identify you as having a disability, not specifically Parkinson’s, they don’t step over you. People automatically help out. But you have to see what works for you. Keep trying and inventing solutions.”

Getting others involved requires opportunity, whether it is raising money or being open about Parkinson's. “Parkinson Canada has so many great resources. Our whole family was running marathons and on my tenth anniversary of having Parkinson’s I talked to my daughter Marina about raising more money, so we came up with Rudy's Run.” Rudy said. “It was a big undertaking, but it’s grown and continued from there, including golf tournaments and speaking events. It takes a community.”

Fundraising Your Way - Organize an Active fundraiser.

In addition to educating the community about Parkinson's disease, Rudy's Run raises funds for research for those living with the disease. If you have an activity that you love, you can start an Active fundraiser too.

Jim Peters - Chipping in for Parkinson's

Jim Peters sensed something was wrong before an official Parkinson’s diagnosis. As an always active person involved in running and golf, Jim was well aware of his body and the suspicious gradual changes to his health.

It's common for twitches to be mistaken for nervousness or dizzy spells caused by skipping a meal, but after a series of events specific to Jim, he began asking questions. “It started with shaking,” Jim recalls, “then became a tremor in my lower lip, followed by one in my left thumb.” After consulting with his doctor, he underwent a series of scans, including an MRI. It wasn’t until confirmed by his neurologist that Jim was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

Despite already experiencing symptoms prior to an official diagnosis, Jim became depressed and had difficulty dealing with this new information. Jim remembers, “It really stuck with me. It was a dark time.” Although depression is common with Parkinson’s, Jim was fortunate to be supported by his wife and four daughters. “It’s like my life flashed before my eyes. At 54, I wondered how my life would be at 80 with Parkinson's. I was desperate at that stage. Researching online to find a cure until I realized I didn’t have to live the next 30 years all at once.”

From then on, Jim was determined to live his life one day at a time. “The good thing about Parkinson’s is there is time. You're told it's a degenerative disease that progresses, but it doesn't have to be that way. Like a graph, you will have periods of decline and improvement, so enjoy the good days and tolerate the bad, but know there is always a better day ahead."

Jim, now 67, also recommends staying active. “If you went for a run today, go for a run tomorrow. Even in aging, we experience gradual decline, we don’t run as far or as fast, but exercise is terribly important. For me running, boxing or any high-intensity activity is good. Walking is good too. Whatever you can do, you should keep doing.”

In staying active, it’s good to keep the mind active as well. Jim, an accountant since 1985, still works from home with some minor adjustments to his schedule. “If I’m having a bad day, I balance the workload. I’m fortunate to be able to work on my own. It gives me the flexibility I need.” Although Jim works from home, he still experiences common misconceptions about Parkinson’s. “When someone sees you shaking, they think your brain is shaky too. They equate physical ability with cognitive ability. One day I want to make a t-shirt that says: Yes, I know I’m shaking. I got over it now it’s your turn.”

Unfortunately, from experience, Jim knows newly diagnosed people tend to change their lifestyle and go into hiding. “Getting past self-consciousness is not easy. But, the more people see people living with Parkinson's, the more awareness will develop.”

In sharing his story and raising awareness for Parkinson’s, Jim is excited to get out there and have “a chance to be included in the conversation.”

Fundraising Your Way - Create a Custom fundraiser

To raise money for people impacted by Parkinson’s, Jim Peters and his daughter Rebecca started an annual golf tournament: Chipping in for Parkinson’s. If you are passionate about something, put your fundraising ideas to work and set up your own Custom fundraiser.

Kevin Farmer - Drums for Parkinson’s

As a drummer for the band Mountain Head, Kevin Farmer knows one of the most important things any musician can do is learn how to listen. Sixteen years ago, Kevin’s father, Alan Farmer, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Kevin, then 18, was living at home and remembered his dad gathering the family to explain the news. “He seemed pretty normal at that point. The symptoms were minimal. I wasn’t aware of the impact, how challenging it would get for him.”

Having a close relationship with his dad, Kevin wanted to do something to help. After learning about the symptoms and seeing how his father developed, he wanted to raise more awareness and funds towards a cure. “Even when I tell people today, they have no idea what Parkinson’s entails. They may recognize Michael J. Fox, but there’s not enough information, not enough awareness out there. Many people believe Parkinson’s is only tremors. And my dad is kind of the opposite. He freezes up, where he can’t move or get a thought out and it can happen anytime. He is starting to know when it is coming on and tries to stop it from happening in advance. People just aren’t aware of the unique symptoms.”

After moving out on his own, Kevin noted Parkinson’s impact on the way they communicated and did things together. Even with best efforts, completing home projects became increasingly challenging, and at times his dad's speech was barely audible. “He sometimes can’t get even a whisper out. Even if you don’t understand at first, you can’t give up. Ask. Repeat.” Kevin encourages. "He exercises and works with a therapist. Rather than telling him to speak louder, we ask him to think louder. Sometimes, thinking loudly helps to get it out of the body."

Communicating creatively, and expressing a little hope, can make a big difference. As we all work toward a cure, more is possible. “Always having a bit of hope goes a long way.” Kevin reminds, “I remember before my dad had deep brain surgery, everyone thought he’d be in a wheelchair. My parents even bought a new house and ordered wider doors to accommodate one. After the surgery, he was much more mobile than predicted. It was night and day.”

Life can be full of uncertainty and in navigating a rapidly changing world, restoring creative connection is crucial. “Opening up your mind and being creative about raising money can inspire hope.” Kevin and his father were already involved in Parkinson Canada SuperWalk, but Kevin wanted to contribute in his own way. He wanted to share his talents drumming. “Not everyone can drum, but anyone can use their talent” We all have the ability to contribute, regardless of what talent we possess. Whether it’s running, dancing, or drumming you just have to pace yourself.” Inspired by my father, I combined my love of playing drums with a cause that I am truly passionate about.”

Fundraising Your Way - Livestream

Since 2008, Kevin Farmer, Alan Farmer and family participate in the Parkinson Canada SuperWalk, raising money annually that goes towards, research, education and support for people living with Parkinsons. During the pandemic, Kevin came up with the idea to create and host Drums for Parkinson’s, a live streaming event hosted on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch. You can set up your own Livestream fundraiser to tell your story and engage support.

Cathy and Paul Wing - The legacy of Paul Wing

Cathy and Paul Wing met through their shared passion for working in media, and their connection deepened as they pursued studies in cinematography, navigating the challenges of shooting on 35mm film—a thrilling venture. They began their media journey in London at a CBC affiliate before joining a CTV affiliate in Ottawa.

Paul, diagnosed at the age of 57, slowly realized the impact of Parkinson's on his life. Initially thought to be depression, it was later recognized and diagnosed as the same condition his father had—Parkinson's a condition that led to his father’s passing before Paul’s own diagnosis. As the disease progressed, Paul’s symptoms advanced rapidly, prompting him to leave work immediately after the diagnosis. The impact was profound, leading him to go on disability right away. While Paul didn’t exhibit tremors, he faced difficulties with movement. Unable to carry heavy equipment or drive, it was a significant blow to a man dedicated to capturing the world through a lens. Cathy became the primary caregiver, with their daughters, Julia and Lauren, offering their support.

While the initial years were manageable with medication, freezing episodes intensified, leading to the consideration of the transformative Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) operation at the ten-year mark. Cathy remembered, “He did well until a certain point. In the first few years, he responded well to levodopa, but closer to the 10-year mark, freezing episodes would last a long time. Paul was a good prospect for the DBS operation, and after waiting patiently for four years for the surgery, he finally underwent the procedure.”

Amidst the challenges, Paul refused to let Parkinson's define him. An enthusiast for sports, he remained active, finding joy in pursuits such as being involved in a garage band and discovering a newfound passion for photography, which brought immeasurable joy. “Just try to keep doing the things you love even as things are diminishing and try to adapt and be resilient if possible—it's so important for physical and mental health,” emphasized Cathy. “He didn’t give up; he just changed how he approached them.” Even as Paul’s Parkinson’s journey evolved, joy, resilience, and adaptiveness remained essential constants.

The caregiving journey was made manageable by connecting with Parkinson Canada's support groups, speech therapy, and virtual programs, all of which played a pivotal role. Their family and friends, Paul's quiet strength, and Cathy's commitment to staying physically active became pillars of support. “He was a super active guy—Parkinson’s boxing, dance groups, racketball, tennis, and then he switched to pickleball. Being involved in sports was critical for Paul. He kept busy and even went back to still photography, having art shows and showcasing his work in a couple of galleries,” Cathy recalled.

In memory of Paul's incredible journey, a Fundraising Your Way tribute was set up, including a silent auction featuring Paul's cherished photographs, raising $12,365.55 to date.

Let's join in celebrating Paul's life and supporting other Canadians living with Parkinson's through your unique initiative. Your support makes a significant impact; Fundraising Your Way.