Bill Simmermaker – Waterloo Region
Unfortunately for Bill Simmermaker of Waterloo, Parkinson’s disease runs in the family. That’s one of the main reasons he started participating in WALK-IT for Parkinson’s. “I have Parkinson’s so that is the number one reason I participate but also because my uncle struggled with it for over 30 years,” he said. “I felt that Parkinson’s didn’t get as much attention as other diseases and that more education of Parkinson’s was necessary for the public so I decided to do my part to raise money and awareness.”
Bill’s day-to-day life has been adversely affected by Parkinson’s. “Since my uncle already had this disease, it hit me twice as hard. I always thought I knew how he felt, but I was totally mistaken,” he said. “After seeing things from his side of the glass, I now have a better understanding of how he felt.”
Parkinson’s affects you in many different ways, and Bill is having issues with many of the symptoms. “The lack of strength, forgetfulness, the bouts of depression, swallowing issues, problems with walking; they all contribute to a very stressful existence,” he said.
Bill is relatively new to WALK-IT for Parkinson’s and is looking forward to the event on September 9. “I just found out about the walk last year and after researching some more, I was totally impressed that the money stays right in our own area! We need to educate the public about Parkinson’s and to do that you need funding. We need to keep funding support groups, therapy and other treatments to help those suffering from Parkinson’s.”
Parkinson’s doesn’t just affect the person who is diagnosed; it also affects their entire family. And family is important in helping those with Parkinson’s deal with the daily challenges caused by the disease. WALK-IT for Parkinson’s is open to everyone so many families attend each year. “My favourite part of the event is meeting other people’s families and them meeting mine. Family support is so essential in keeping a positive attitude,” said Bill. “My whole family came last year and it was fun to watch my grandchildren playing.”
Bill encourages anyone who is affected by Parkinson’s to join him at WALK-IT for Parkinson’s this year because everyone feels like family at the event. “It is so hard to put into words how emotional it is to see how other people and their families support one another at an event like this. For one day, they can maybe forget how this disease affects their whole daily existence and have fun while talking to other people who truly know how you feel,” said Bill. “It’s so nice to know that there is a place you can go to get advice, information, or just an ear to listen to you. And we truly are a family! We are all going through relatively the same thing day in and day out and WALK-IT for Parkinson’s is a great way to support each other on this journey.”
About WALK-IT for Parkinson’s
WALK-IT for Parkinson’s will take place on September 9, 2017 at Resurrection Catholic Secondary School in Kitchener. Visit www.walk-it.ca to register and to find more information about Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario.