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On September 7th, walkers in Waterloo Region will be lacing up in support of those whose lives have been touched by Parkinson’s disease.

The annual “WALK-IT for Parkinson’s” will be held at Kiwanis Park in Kitchener and everyone is invited to participate.

“The walk has been an annual event in the community for many years,” says Jessica Hall, the Community Development Coordinator with the Parkinson’s Society of Southwestern Ontario.

“We encourage everyone to come and join us for the walk to help support Parkinson’s, a disease which is on the rise.”

According to Hall, it is estimated that 10,000 people are living with Parkinson’s in Southwestern Ontario and it is expected that this number will double by 2031.

“We know it’s on the rise,” Hall says. “People might not understand why yet, but it’s surpassing other diseases like Alzheimer’s. That is why it is so important that we support this growing disease.”

The Parkinson Society of Southwestern Ontario supports people living with the disease. Its purpose is to ease the burden and find a cure through support services, education, advocacy and research.

According to the society, Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder which affects both motor and non-motor functioning.

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological disorder resulting from the loss of dopamine in a part of the brain called substantia nigra.

Dopamine acts as a chemical messenger, allowing nerve impulses to travel smoothly from one nerve cell to another. This enables the transmission of messages to muscles in the body to begin voluntary movement.

As dopamine continues to decrease, muscle movements become slower, tremors develop, and reflexes become more impaired, contributing to a loss of balance.

Some of the primary symptoms that are associated with Parkinson’s include tremors, rigidity, akinesia or bradykinesia, postural instability, soft speech, writing problems and sleep disturbances. Non-motor symptoms include depression, anxiety, psychosis, dementia, memory problems and difficulty with communication.

While symptoms typically begin to appear at age 55 to 60 years, 10 per cent of all people diagnosed with Parkinson’s will be under the age of 40. Both men and women are affected by this disease and race and ethnicity do not predetermine risk factors.

In September, the annual “WALK-IT for Parkinson’s” will take place in 16 locations throughout Southwestern Ontario.

Anyone interested in taking part can register as a walker, become a team captain, join a team or can donate to a walker.

In Waterloo Region, the walk will take place on Saturday September 7th at the Beachside Picnic Shelter at Kiwanis Park. Registration will at 9:30 am and the walk begins at 11:00 am.

To register, visit: parkinsonsociety.ca or www.walk-it.ca

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