“I don’t like Parkinson’s,” says 12-year-old Will Isaac-Kulesza who started walking in SuperWalk at the age of two.
Becky, Will’s mother, remembers Will noticing his grandfather’s shaking hands and asking if there was anything he could do to help. Since then, the walk has been an annual event in the Isaac household.
Despite those early walks being no easy feat for a young child, Will kept at it and has since raised nearly 11 thousand dollars to support Canadians living with Parkinson’s, just like his grandfather, the late William Isaac who Will is affectionately named after.
This year marks ten years of SuperWalks for Will and his family, and the first walk shared with the community since losing his grandfather – who he calls Poobah – in May of 2021. Their team name? The Grand Poobahs!
Will has always been creative in his fundraising efforts and never shies away from hard work if it means collecting donations for SuperWalk.
“I want to raise money for Parkinson’s and help other people not lose their grandpa’s,” Will says.
Last year, because of the pandemic, Will and his family did their own walk. Having lost his grandfather only months before, Will poured himself into fundraising and hit his own personal best fundraising year, at $2,600!
Memories in nature
Will and his Poobah, were best friends. Will’s knowledge and love for gardening come from sharing that hobby with his grandfather, who taught him to appreciate the outdoors and see the beauty in caring for outdoor spaces.
The two best buds shared in their love for nature with a trip to Alaska and the Yukon in 2018 where Will made the memories of a lifetime with his grandfather. “I had the best best friend ever,” he says.
Will remembers how, despite his Poobah’s shaking hands and balance issues, he was able to hike the trails of Alaska and the Yukon without incident.
“He was an amazing photographer, too, and took really great photos on that trip, even with his shaking hands,” Will says.
The togetherness that Will and his grandfather shared during their walks, time spent in the garden, fishing trips, baseball games, and peanut butter snack breaks was nothing short of remarkable and influential for Will. In fact, it’s because of these times that Will enjoys walking in SuperWalk and dedicates himself to fundraising for a cause he became all too familiar with.
The power of walking
Will’s grandfather was six foot eight. Even as his Parkinson’s progressed and he began using a walker, his stride was massive. “I had to run to keep up with him,” Will shares while smiling at the memories.
Will’s grandfather joined in many of Will’s SuperWalks, and when he couldn’t, he was cheering from the sidelines. “His grandfather was very proud of Will,” Becky says.
The ability to walk is something we often take for granted. Watching a grandparent slowly lose their ability to walk motivated Will to walk and to continue raising awareness about the disease that was challenging his grandfather and 100,000 other Canadians.
Over his 10-year journey with SuperWalk, he has made the “Top Under 12” fundraisers in all of Manitoba numerous times. An accomplishment that earned him and his mom an invite to the Government House a few years ago where they had the pleasure of networking with other invitees, community leaders, and elected officials.
Following his visit, Will’s school asked him to present on the topic of Parkinson’s. He taught his classmates about the disease and what he does year after year to help support Canadians impacted by it. All because he and his Poobah loved to walk.
Hours upon hours dedicated to fundraising
To collect donations, Will offers lawn maintenance and gardening services for people in his neighborhood. He tells people, “Even 25 cents helps.”
Beyond fundraising by offering gardening services, over the years Will has collected donations by selling t-shirts and hats with hand-drawn images, working lemonade stands, and working to distribute newspaper flyers. This year, Will is making buttons!
“Will spends hours and hours every year working like crazy for donations and we have been so blessed to have many people support him in his endeavors,” Becky says. “He has dreams of either working to research Parkinson’s treatments or work as a marine biologist or apparently both. This is before he moves to Alaska and becomes a train engineer for the train that he and his Poobah went on when they were up there!”
If there’s anyone who can achieve those goals in their lifetime, it’s Will. He is proving to himself and others that dedicating yourself to something important to you is the path to success. The late William Isaac’s name lives on in his grandson who is sure to keep making his family proud.
Kids like Will find a sense of purpose in SuperWalk every September. Find a walk near you to support those in your community impacted by Parkinson’s.