All posts by Joanne Bernard

Brenda Anderson’s Story (2016)

Brenda Anderson 

Diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1995, Brenda became aware of her local Chatham Parkinson’s support group through a good friend. Hoping to gain some insight and learn more about what to expect with her recent diagnosis, Brenda made her first visit – and never looked back.

Brenda jumped right in. She helped with and spearheaded many of the activities and initiatives, not only with her own local group, but those that are also available through Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario (PSSO).

Brenda helps to organize and participates in the annual walk. She also assists with local bake sales, sells tickets at local malls, and volunteers her time at a local BBQ each year. Brenda often contacts members of the support group to remind them of their exercise class dates, and visits support group members when they unexpectedly have to spend time in the hospital.

But it’s not just PSSO that keeps Brenda busy. She supports her local soup kitchen, and also helps her fellow church members by re-writing hymn lyrics in a font large enough for those with declining vision to be able to read. This gives them the ability to actively participate in the weekly Sunday service.

Brenda is grateful for the friends she has made over the years through PSSO, and keeps in touch with as many as possible. The support group has been an invaluable experience for Brenda – from the people she’s met, the support she’s received to the knowledge she has gained through presentations and expert speakers from the support group meetings.

Brenda has been awarded both the 5 year and 10 year Parkinson’s volunteer pins – an achievement and a testament to her dedication and commitment to helping others. She stresses the importance of staying as involved as possible and plans to do so for years to come. “I’m doing important work – God’s work.”

Brenda also realizes the need to remain active. She attends three exercise classes a week and makes a point of walking every day. She believes that her commitment to regular exercise has been the driving force in slowing down the progression of her Parkinson’s. She also enjoys keeping her mind active. In the spare time she does have, she loves to curl up with good Christian fiction or work her way through crosswords and word search puzzles.

Brenda’s sister, Connie is also an active participant as a result of Brenda’s involvement. Connie participates in the walk every year, assists with catering and preparation at Parkinson’s luncheons and helps with carpooling Brenda and others who can no longer drive because of their Parkinson’s symptoms. Brenda’s twin sister, Sandy also helps out with transportation back and forth from Chatham to London when needed.

Brenda’s inspiration and drive come from her love of people and her ability to give back to them and the community. “I thank God every day that I am able to get up, get out, and help others. Now if I could just find time for that afternoon nap!”

About WALK-IT for Parkinson’s – Chatham

WALK-IT for Parkinson’s will take place on September 10th, 2017 at the Kingston Park in Chatham-Kent. Visit to register and to find more information about Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario.



Fran Gordon’s Story (2016)

Fran Gordon Photo

Fran Gordon

In 2000, Fran Gordon’s husband, Alan, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Although the diagnosis was suspected as early as 1993, the news was still shocking for both Fran and Alan. Together their journey with the life altering disease continuously changes with each day. They are thankful for Alan’s slow progression as it has allowed them time to cope with the changes as they come.

Up until three years ago, Parkinson’s did not affect Fran’s daily life. More recently, as progression has set in, Fran has started to help Alan with more of his daily activities. Although sometimes stressful, Fran remains positive. She thanks Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) and the Day-Away program for the services which help both Fran and Alan to maintain a good quality of life. “These programs are wonderful. Alan absolutely loves spending the day in Port Elgin and looks forward to his twice-weekly visits. CCAC have also been great. I’ve been able to bring in a worker during the day twice per week, so I am able to remain involved with my physical activity at the local YMCA.”

Fran and Alan acknowledge the importance of regular physical activity. Although he is no longer able to participate in the VON Smart Exercise program, Fran and Alan have made it a priority to remain active. Fran and Alan make their quarter-mile walk each day to the local bridge and back home again. It is an activity they are able to enjoy together. “As long as you can physically exercise, you should,” said Fran.

Fran also emphasizes the importance of the walk, as it raises funds for Parkinson’s research and support services for people with Parkinson’s and their families. “We look forward to raising funds each year for an important and meaningful cause. For our 60th anniversary, we asked for donations instead of gifts. We were able to raise $1,300! The support we receive from friends and family has been enormous. It’s what keeps us going, and brings us back year after year.”

About WALK-IT for Parkinson’s – Owen Sound

WALK-IT for Parkinson’s will take place on September 10th, 2017 at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre in Owen Sound. Visit to register and to find more information about Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario.

Gerald Freeman’s Story (2016)

Gerald Freeman

Jane Freeman’s journey with Parkinson’s began in early 1983 with a noticeable awkwardness developing in her left hand.  It was investigated by Dr. Duke, a neurologist in Hamilton ON. After a series of neurological tests there were no conclusive results. It was only after a trial of Parkinson medication that it was determined that Jane’s diagnoses was in fact Parkinson’s.

Gerald and Jane (age 39 with a young family of 5 boys) found it a worrisome future not knowing anything about Parkinson’s (as little was known) in 1983. After shedding some tears one night, Gerald and Jane experienced a way of dealing with the uncertainty that they faced together.

It was a silly statement to make but in desperation Gerald blurted out “Well Jane, If things get too bad, we’ll go out and buy a little red sports car and go ‘play’ in traffic!”  The ridiculousness of that statement resulted in the tears turning into laughter. Looking back on that moment, Gerald said “I just wanted Jane to know that whatever happened, we were in this thing together – and it turned out to be a great icebreaker for both of us.”

They definitely went through tough times. “Often when Parkinson’s had challenged us on a tough day all I had to say was, ‘well Jane, is it time for the little red sports car?’, and that would again bring about gut wrenching laughter knowing that there was no way we could change things” said Gerald.

They also found other ways to cope by researching what services were available. They gained knowledge through Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario (PSSO) educational materials and PSSO support groups, regional conferences, and events like Walk It for Parkinson’s.

Gerald and Jane got more involved with the Parkinson’s community. They started as walk participants, and then joined the local support group. Gerald also helped with facilitating the local support group when the Parkinson’s of the initial leader advanced. “The support group was so important to Jane and me. We received the support we needed, while also developing lifelong friendships. Today I am still connected to members of the support group which we attended many years ago.”

Gerald wants everyone to consider joining him at WALK-IT for Parkinson’s or to support someone who is participating. “The walk gives us hope. Hope for better treatment options, hope for more information about causes, hope for new research projects.” Gerald and his family walk in memory of Jane, but also for those who are still battling Parkinson’s, and for those who are facing a recent diagnosis. “We always tried to turn tears into smiles, and fill the difficult days with laughter. Laughing is what kept us going through our 28-year journey. We took it day by day and never took life too seriously. In life we stumble, we fall, we get some bruises. But we get back on our feet – and we walk.”

About WALK-IT for Parkinson’s – Brant-Norfolk

WALK-IT for Parkinson’s will take place on September 9th, 2017 at Mohawk Park in Brant-Norfolk. Visit to register and to find more information about Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario.



Celebrating Success!

Thank you to all our sponsors, participants, donors and volunteers for making the 2016 Spring/Summer events a success!

Click here to see pictures from the spring/summer events in our NEW GALLERY.

Please make sure to support our supporters:

Cut-A-Thon for Parkinson’s – London:
Chez Cheveux
Elle Reve Salon
Maria Bikas Salon
Melo Hair & Beauty Bar
N U Hair & Make Up Studio
Nova Vita Hair Studio & Esthetics
Shampoo Planet
Side Street Salon Inc.
Studio H Artist Group
Wabi Sabi Hair Artistry
Wright Hair

Cut-A-Thon for Parkinson’s – Waterloo Region:
FAD Hair Studio
Oiseau Salon
OZ Hair and Skin
Studio 777 Hair & Make-UP Artistry
Voila – Sportsworld Location
Xcentric Salon

Cut-A-Thon for Parkinson’s – Windsor:
Antoine Greige Salon & Spa
Cabello Hair
Roots Hair Lounge

Cut-A-Thon for Parkinson’s Sponsors:
Lerner’s (London, Waterloo Region, Windsor)
HRT Insurance Consulting (London)
Corus Radio (London)
AM 800/CTV (Windsor)
Clair Hills Retirement Community (Waterloo Region)
Rogers Kitchener Radio (Waterloo Region)

Signatures – A Taste Test of London’s Best
Barakat Restaurant Downtown
BBQ Feast Catering
Bourbon Street Cajun and Creole Kitchen
Burrito Boyz
CHOP Steakhouse & Bar
DAVIDsTEA White Oaks Mall
Edible Arrangements
Fancy Tarts
Hey, Cupcake!
Hot Italian Sandwiches on Dundas
Icarus Resto Bar
Idlewyld Inn
Jack Astor’s Richmond Row
Littlewood Pie Co.
London Ice Cream Company
Moxie’s Grill & Bar
North Moore Catering/The River Room Café & Private Dining
Olive R. Twists Food & Beverage House
Paramount Fine Foods
Pure Leaf Iced Tea (Pepsico Canada)
Qdoba Mexican Eats
Restaurant Ninety One
Simply Kept Caterings
Talbot Bar & Grille at Budweiser Gardens
Tony Roma’s North
Tony’s Famous Italian Restaurant
Western Fair District Catering Services
Wich is Wich
YOU Made It Café & Farm Boy
Zoup! Wellington Road

Signatures Sponsors:
Finch Auto Group
Dominion Lending Centres – Yvette Helwig
Ford Keast LLP
Investors Group
Mendes Law Firm
The Kent Group Marketing Services
Yurek Home Healthcare Ltd
Leanne Beattie, CIM, FCSI, Franklin Templeton
POI Business Interiors
Preferred Insurance
Rival Office Solutions
Fresh Radio

7th Annual Parkinson Golf Classic Presented by Rembrandt Homes
Acura West
Allied Construction
Auburn Developments
Bluestone Properties
Callon Dietz
Carpet Department
Castell Homes
Cohen Highley
Development Engineering
DLS Electric (London) Inc.
Domus Developments
Drewlo Holdings
G T Tires
Graystone Homes
Giant Tiger
Investor’s Group London-Bluewater
Jack 102.3 FM
London City Chrysler
London Honda
Marcus & Associates- Hoare Dalton
Old Oak Properties
Oliver and Associates Power Team
Preferred Insurance
Roestenberg Welding
Saratoga Homes
Sifton Properties
Sloan Stone Design
Southside Construction Mgmt Ltd
Sterling Karamar Property Mgmt
TD Canada Trust
Ted Velikonja CIBC Wood Gundy
The Ironstone Building Co Inc
Turnay Electric
Westhaven Homes
Under the Volcano
Yurek Pharmacy
Zaifman Family

HollisWealth Charity Golf Classic
AGF Management Ltd
Anne Kinzie – Kinzie Financial Services
Cardy Winters & Simon
CI Investments
Dynamic Mutual Funds
Fidelity Investments
HollisWealth/Scotiabank Global Wealth & Insurance
JD Industries
Kuntz Electroplating
Larry Simpson
Mackenzie Investments
National Bank Investments
TD Asset Management
Triumph Tool Ltd

New Look – Renewed Hope – NEW WALK

Be part of the excitement – get involved in WALK-IT for Parkinson’s this September!

WALK-IT for Parkinson’s is Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario’s newest walk to help those living with Parkinson’s in Southwestern Ontario. Bring your family and friends and be part of this exciting event – Every Step Counts!

Effective December 31, 2015, The Parkinson Canada Federation was dissolved, and as a result, Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario is no longer affiliated with Parkinson Canada. This change means that every dollar raised in Southwestern Ontario will stay in Southwestern Ontario. Funds raised at WALK-IT for Parkinson’s will go to support local services, education, advocacy and research. This event will replace the Parkinson SuperWalk in Southwestern Ontario. With all these changes, it is the perfect time to launch our own new walk.

This September 10th, 11th and 18th our inaugural WALK-IT for Parkinson’s will take place in 13 locations throughout Southwestern Ontario.

Regular physical activity can help slow the progression of Parkinson’s symptoms, so let’s help the Parkinson community in Southwestern Ontario keep active. Join the movement and take the 1,000,000 Step Challenge by participating in WALK-IT for Parkinson’s.

Step 1: Register
Step 2: Raise Funds
Step 3: Wear a Free Pedometer

Get involved and accept the challenge by registering as a walker, becoming a team captain, joining a team, pledging a walker, volunteering at your local walk or making a donation. Join the movement for physical activity and be a part of WALK-IT for Parkinson’s this September!

Register today at:

For information on times and walk locations, go to


Top Teams and Walkers

Thank you to everyone that participated in our walk last September!

Team Parker (London and District) $23,785
Renaud’s Raiders (Windsor-Essex) $7,475
Kawagama (Orangeville and Area) $6,808
Team Stammler (Windsor-Essex) $6,632
London Groupies (London and District) $5,740
Saugeen Strollers (Kincardine) $4,415
Scott’s Movers and Shakers (Stratford and Area) $4,346
Howard Bast Team (Waterloo Region) $4,190
r u ready (Orangeville and Area) $4,075
Stewies Shakers (Brant-Norfolk) $4,054


Raised $10,000+
Clare Poechman (South Grey, Bruce and Hanover)

Raised $5,000 – $9,999
Kent Dixon (Brant-Norfolk)
Barry Parker (London and District)
Tom Pistore (London and District)
William Rea (Orangeville)
Joe Renaud (Windsor-Essex)
Stuart Selby (Windsor-Essex)
Daniel St. Onge (Waterloo Region)
Mary Vernon (London and District)

Raised $2,500 – $4,999
Howard Bast (Waterloo Region)
Joy Blackburn (Orangeville)
Nancy Blaney (London and District)
Robert Cotie (Kincardine)
Scott Dunbar (Stratford and Area)
Mike Knott (Chatham-Kent)
Jim Piggott (Oxford County)
Maria Price (Windsor-Essex)
Joe Stammler (Windsor-Essex)
William Schafer (Stratford and Area)
George Werezak (Sarnia-Lambton)

Raised $1,000 – $2,499
Ken Amos (Sarnia-Lambton)
Lucas Anderson (Sarnia-Lambton)
Kathleen Antaya (Windsor-Essex)
Jerrold Beech (South Grey, Bruce and Hanover)
Mike & Nancy Berry (Sarnia-Lambton)
Connie Birmingham (Stratford and Area)
Annette Bradbury (Brant-Norfolk)
Karen Braithwaite (Owen Sound)
William Brennan (London and District)
Gary Burton (London and District)
Carl Chute (London and District)
Leah Coulthart-Howe (Kincardine)
Gary Dale (Kincardine)
Roger Dallaire (Sarnia-Lambton)
Sue Dunseith (Stratford and Area)
Brenda Ecclestone (Orangeville)
Robert Ecclestone (Orangeville)
Marilyn Elford (London and District)
Nick Fatouros (London and District)
Raegan Fatouros (London and District)
William Gard (Stratford and Area)
Mary Ellen Garner (Oxford County)
David Gilbert (Waterloo Region)
Avril Hickson (London and District)
DJ Hillier (Sarnia-Lambton)
Jessie Hillier (Sarnia-Lambton)
Kimberly Hogan (Stratford and Area)
Clara Howe (Kincardine)
Lorne Hyatt (Sarnia-Lambton)
Sanford Kuepfer (Stratford and Area)
Laura Lampkin (London and District)
Chris Maciejowski (London and District)
Sara & Hannah McPherson (Brant-Norfolk)
Bonnie Moore (Sarnia-Lambton)
Dave & Helen Moran – Craigie (South Grey, Bruce and Hanover)
Bill Moses (Owen Sound)
Anne Neill (London and District)
Christie Newman (Windsor-Essex)
Melora Parker-Pistore (London and District)
Bev Plume (South Grey, Bruce and Hanover)
Maria Price (Windsor-Essex)
Norah Rae (Waterloo Region)
Charles Ryde (Stratford and Area)
Sam Sanfilippo (London and District)
Alan Scott (Stratford and Area)
Diana Shelestynsky (Stratford and Area)
Ian Shouldice (Sarnia-Lambton)
Colleen Sim (Sarnia-Lambton)
Stan Soterlos (Windsor-Essex)
Crystal & Herb Stammler (Windsor-Essex)
Katie Stammler (Windsor-Essex)
John Stewart (Brant-Norfolk)
Stephanie Szusz (Waterloo Region)
Jamie Tolton (South Grey, Bruce and Hanover)
Gunne Weber (Kincardine)
Otto Weber (Stratford and Area)
Lynn Werkmeister (South Grey, Bruce and Hanover)
JoAnn Wolfs (London and District)
Carolyn Young (Sarnia-Lambton)