I can’t believe we’ve already reached the holiday season! Time flies when you’re busy, and this year the Parkinson Canada team has certainly been busy.
Before I share some highlights, I want to take the opportunity to extend an enormous thank you to everyone who has contributed to making this last year a success, and the future a possibility; our dedicated staff, an experienced board of directors, an insightful Parkinson Advisory Council, a knowledgeable Research and Clinical Advisory Committee, hundreds of committed volunteers across the country, generous donors and the passionate Parkinson’s community at large.
While we continue to learn and grow as a largely new team, 2022 has been a great year.
Our return to in-person events saw SuperWalks take place across Canada, three Pedaling for Parkinson’s rides and the Growling Beaver Brevet. Thousands of Canadians participated and volunteered their time, raising over $2 million.
Personally, I had the privilege of participating in various fundraising events from riding in two of our Pedaling for Parkinson’s events and the Growling Beaver Brevet and walking with my family at the Toronto SuperWalk. In all the events that I experienced, I was touched by the sense of community at events both large and small, and the personal moments of connection that the virtual environment has not allowed us to experience.
It was through discussion with our community, both nationally and internationally, that we came to launch the first Every Victory Counts® Canadian Edition. We recognized that Every Victory Counts was an excellent resource for people living with Parkinson’s but wanted to ensure that the content spoke to the Canadian landscape. The response for the Canadian Edition has been tremendous, and we continue to enjoy hearing about all the victories, big and small, that the Parkinson’s community is experiencing.
As we continue to look for new treatments, and a cure, we have been able to increase research investments through your generous donations. In 2022, we funded 23 new research projects and awards. This includes pilot projects investigating new and exciting ideas and supporting the next generation of researchers and clinicians in the awards to postdoctoral fellows, clinical fellows and graduate students. At the same time, we increased our funding commitment to the Canadian Open Parkinson Network (C-OPN), as we know the power of more data will allow us to accelerate our understanding of Parkinson’s.
We also recognize that the development of new treatments and a cure cannot be done alone, and Parkinson Canada has spent the last year leaning into our role as a connector and collaborator within the Parkinson’s community. We proudly co-hosted roundtable discussions on challenges in clinical trials in early-stage Parkinson’s treatments with the Michael J. Fox Foundation and Parkinson’s UK. We also looked to other neurological diseases and hosted a symposium that brought Canadian Parkinson’s researchers and clinicians with international Multiple Sclerosis researchers and clinicians to discuss where the two neurological diseases could learn from each other and potentially collaborate.
Over the last year, we further delved into our National Roundtable Report, where we heard that accessing care is a major issue. Canada has a complex healthcare system, and COVID-19 has further highlighted the need to think innovatively about accessing care. It will take many stakeholders to bring about change. We have started discussions about what innovative models of care would do to bring down barriers to accessing care, and most importantly, improve the quality of life for those living with Parkinson’s. Working closely with our advocacy team, the clinical community and the Parkinson’s community, we will raise the voices of Canadians impacted by Parkinson’s and make Parkinson’s a priority.
It is not every day that I get the opportunity to sit down and reflect on all the work that Parkinson Canada has been doing and to have an open dialogue that allows you to see how far we have come. I recently sat down with Caroline Pitfield, Dr. Tony Lang and Liz Loewen to discuss the science behind Parkinson’s disease, how it affects an individual, and what Parkinson Canada is doing to transform lives. Transformation does not happen overnight but is something we at Parkinson Canada are continuously working on while keeping the person living with Parkinson’s at the center of everything we do.
The last few years have forced us to change and adapt in ways that we could never have imagined, but I believe that, together, we have turned those challenges into opportunities, and I look forward to an exciting new year ahead.
I wish you and yours a warm, safe and joyous holiday season.
Karen Lee, PhD
President & CEO