When you participate in Pedaling for Parkinson’s or donate - whether it be money or your equally valuable time - you’re supporting Parkinson Canada in our quest to improve lives of people living with Parkinson’s and their care partners. Here are some of their stories.
Bill Rea discovered a new passion for cycling after being diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2010. He knew he needed to stay active to keep his body moving and healthy, and cycling seemed like the perfect form of exercise. He started with a road bike and later added a mountain bike to his collection.
Throughout his years of cycling, Bill has had his share of interesting experiences. He has encountered wildlife such as deer, skunks, turkey vultures, wild turkeys, and geese on his rides. He has also breathed in the fresh country air, even when farmers have spread manure on their fields. Despite these challenges, he finds nothing beats the feeling of being out on the road or trail, the wind in his hair, and the sun on his face.
One of the best things about Bill's cycling journey is that he has been able to share it with his closest friends. Three of his best buddies, whom he met in his first-year residence at the University of Western Ontario in 1983, have become a part of his Pedaling for Parkinson's team. His friend Doug Jones is his constant riding partner on the county roads between Orangeville, Shelburne, and Grand Valley in Ontario. He has been by Bill's side during every ride, encouraging him to keep going and supporting him whenever needed.
Bill and Doug have also participated in the Pedaling for Parkinson's event for several years. In addition to supporting Parkinson Canada’s programs & services and advocacy efforts, this event raises funds for research, which is a cause that Bill has a personal interest in. It also gives them a chance to escape to Doug's cottage near Parry Sound for a weekend every summer when the event was held there. The two friends make the most of the opportunity, turning it into a fun-filled weekend away from their daily routine.
This has become an annual tradition for Bill and his friends. They ride together, laugh together, and make memories that will last a lifetime. For Bill, cycling has not only kept him active but has also brought him closer to his friends and given him a sense of purpose by supporting a cause that is close to his heart.
Last year, Bill championed the effort to start the Pedaling for Parkinson’s GTA Ride in his hometown of Orangeville. He helped plan the routes, alongside his friend Doug, and recruited volunteers and vendors for the event. Bill doubled down on his efforts and was the top fundraiser for the ride. Thanks to him, the inaugural ride was a success, and we look forward to building on that momentum in this year’s ride.
You, too, can grab a bike and hit the road with friends for a life-changing ride! Consider taking up cycling like Bill Rea. It's a fun way to stay active, bond with friends, and support a meaningful cause. You can make a difference while exploring new adventures by participating in events like Pedaling for Parkinson's.
Together with his stepfather Valery and sister Margarita, Eugene Shershnev, was a devoted caregiver for his mother Larisa, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's and later cancer. While caring for his mother, Eugene found solace in physical activities such as cycling and running. He became an advocate for Parkinson's research and participated in fundraising events, emphasizing teamwork.
It had been 20 years since Eugene's mother was diagnosed with Parkinson's. Despite having a family of his own and other responsibilities, Eugene never missed calling his mother and sharing weekends with his sister to take care of their mother.
His mother didn't drive and had limited proficiency in English, it was challenging for her to communicate effectively with doctors during appointments. As a result, someone had to accompany her to all her medical appointments. Additionally, managing her medications was a significant task, but Eugene’s stepfather took great care of it on a daily basis.
"My mother loved working in a flower shop, and even when she struggled, she tried to do things at home, making arrangements when she could. Parkinson's didn't seem to affect her day-to-day much, but coupled with a cancer diagnosis, it became more noticeable and a much bigger physical struggle in the last five to six years of her life," Eugene shared.
His mother had a long surgery, recovery, and chemotherapy. Eugene wondered which affected his mother more, Parkinson's or cancer. However, he knew that both cancer and Parkinson’s took a toll on her. She became a slight woman, weighing only 80 pounds in her last few years.
Eugene helped his mother with physical activities, and he looked forward to seeing his mother each time, even if it was just sitting next to her and watching TV. "In pushing her wheelchair for an hour or so while going for walks, she would apologize for us having to spend our weekends with her. We have also talked a lot about past times, when we were kids, and remembering all the good things,” he explained.
Eugene also started taking care of his own health. In addition to getting on a healthier lifestyle overall, he started cycling and running. "In helping my mom, I really started taking care of my own health. I started cycling a lot, running, taking care of myself. I became healthier and fitter in my late forties than in my twentieth."
In all the lessons learned, Eugene advises that it takes a team effort to care for someone with Parkinson's, and it's essential to have open communication and a loving and caring family. "I hope that both me and my sister seeing and spending time with our mom made her days a little brighter and added more time to her life."
Even after his mother's passing, Eugene continues to inspire and work towards helping find a cure for Parkinson's.