Doug Pickard hopes to deliver a knockout blow to Parkinson’s disease, and has organized the local Parkinson’s Superwalk this Saturday at Community Park to raise funds for the Parkinson Society of British Columbia. — Photo submitted by Fluid Fitness

Parkinson Superwalk comes to Parksville Saturday

Organizer hopes fundraising walk will deliver knockout blow to Parkinson’s

It’s time to lace up a comfortable pair of walking shoes and join like-minded residents in the fight against Parkinson’s Disease when the Parkinson’s Superwalk comes to Parksville this Saturday, Sept. 9.

If the turnout reflects the amount of money raised so far by local contributors, it could be quite a crowd.

“We were hoping to surpass last year’s total of $7,500 (raised),” said walk organizer Doug Pickard. “So far we’ve got more than $14,000, and that’s just online entries. It doesn’t include the cash and cheques people bring on the day of the walk. We think we should hit about $20,000.”

The walk, a nationwide fundraising event for Parkinson’s research, will take place on the waterfront boardwalk at Community Park. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and the short walk, of less than two kilometres, will start at 11 a.m.

This is the third year the event has been held at Community Park, after starting on a private farm in French Creek, said Pickard, a certified personal and group fitness instructor who has been the facilitator for the Oceanside Parkinson’s Support Group for the past four years.

“It was a beautiful spot,” Pickard said of the farm location. “But it kind of takes the public out of it, unfortunately.”

Pickard said the walk typically draws 50-60 participants, but his hoping for as many as 100 this weekend. Walkers may sign up on the morning of the event and do not have to pre-register or gather pledges. Among the draws are clowns who will circulate through the crowd, and a demonstration of the RockSteady boxing program Pickard runs locally for Parkinson sufferers.

Ten years ago, Pickard, owner of Fluid Fitness Studio in Parksville, began working one-on-one with a client suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. She responded well to the exercises, and Pickard was so intrigued about the effects of exercise on the disease that with her encouragement he started a class for her friends also suffering from PD. Over the years Pickard has increased his knowledge and gained certification in PD-specific exercise programs. The first was PWR!Moves for Parkinson’s Disease, developed by Becky Farley of the University of Arizona. A few years later he travelled to Indianapolis to take an intensive certification program called Rock Steady Boxing, and then returned home and in November opened the first Rock Steady affiliation on Vancouver Island, one of only ten in Canada.

Saturday’s RockSteady boxing demo takes place at 10:30 a.m., during registration and prior to the start of the walk. Those who wish may try on some boxing gloves and have a go at Bob, the RockSteady mascot. There will also be a demonstration of the Rock Steady Boxing program.

As of Tuesday, Sept. 5, Pickard had personally raised $2,235 in pledges, surpassing his goal of $2,000. Donations may be made on behalf of Pickard or another local walker online, or make a general donation to the Parkinson Society of British Columbia.

Parkinson Superwalks are scheduled in 26 B.C. communities, along with a “virtual” walk and a number of other walks outside the province.

The walks continue in various communities through the weekend of Sept. 16-17, and those who wish to donate can continue to do so throughout the month of September.

To register or to make a donation online, visit www.superwalkbc.kintera.org. For more info, call Pickard at 250-927-4595 email runfluid@hotmail.ca)

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