Rudy Erfle was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at 47. Always a runner, the beloved pastime eventually became a source of treatment for his symptoms, a continued source of family time well spent and a source of inspiration for what would become an incredibly successful fundraising event.
Five years into Rudy’s diagnosis, his medication wasn’t working the same way any longer. He knew exercise was part of the recommended treatment plan for Parkinson’s but it wasn’t until he was faced with worsening symptoms that he fully recommitted to his long love for running.
Rudy now hopes for two things in this life with Parkinson’s:
- To see a breakthrough in medication during his lifetime.
- To make sure he’s still involved with his kids and grandkids despite his Parkinson’s.
To help support these two goals, Rudy and his family decided to pursue a fundraising event, and Parkinson Canada’s Fundraise Your Way events were the first that came to mind. Fundraising Your Way is an event program developed in recognition of the creative ways people who are passionate about a world without Parkinson’s are choosing to make their mark in support of Parkinson Canada.
Rudy’s Run for Parkinson Canada
In Montreal, where Rudy and his family live, they put together a modest event to support Rudy’s dream of helping to fund Parkinson’s research that could change his life. We covered the inaugural year of Rudy’s Run for Parkinson Canada in this piece, if you’d like to know more about it was planned and how the family felt after experiencing the rush of hosting a Fundraise Your Way event.
Rudy asks his family, friends from hockey and golf, colleagues and loyal customers to participate in a go-at-your-our-pace walk or run at the local track and to donate what they can to help fund Parkinson’s research.
“What started out as a small undertaking, turned out to have a massive impact,” Rudy’s wife, Artemis, says.
Since its inception in 2018, Rudy’s Run has raised over $190,000! Rudy and Artemis’ kids, who have families of their own now, travel from far and wide to come home and support their father. Even during the pandemic when in-person events were called to a halt and the family couldn’t travel, the generosity of Rudy’s social circles continued.
Rudy and Artemis wanted to ensure that their efforts to fundraise such incredible amounts would have an impact on research. Working with Parkinson Canada, they were able to fund specific research projects Rudy felt held promise.
In 2020, Rudy’s Run funded Dr. Philippe Huot, Assistant Professor at McGill University’s novel approach for the treatment of motor disabilities in Parkinson’s . Donations have also funded research by Dr. Yogitha Thattikota of the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University. Dr. Thattikota has been researching finding the right proteins to stop Parkinson’s.
The fundraising efforts have also resulted in Rudy and Artemis receiving invitations to join research events, expanding their networks even further and connecting them with other Parkinson’s researchers.
Oh, how it’s grown!
This year, Rudy’s Run is garnering more community attention than ever before.
Previous years’ turnout reached an estimated 200 people. This year, they are expecting to achieve record-breaking attendance. There will be a local massage therapy clinic providing free massages, free food will be provided by local restaurants, and three local bands will be playing for those walking and running the track.
“We were surprised that three bands insisted on playing during the three-hour event!”, Artemis says with glee.
By hosting a Fundraising Your Way event for Parkinson’s, not only are critical funds being raised to support research, but the message about Parkinson’s is also being spread. More than 100,000 people in Canada live with Parkinson’s and that number grows each day.
Feeling supported in Parkinson’s
At 61, Rudy has 14 years of experience with his Parkinson’s, and more often than not it hasn’t been easy. However, what Rudy discovered in sharing his diagnosis and hosting a fundraising event is that people are inspired and motivated to support a cause when they see someone impacted by it striving for greatness and determined to help, too.
“Hosting Rudy’s Run and fundraising for Parkinson Canada research keeps me hopeful,” says Rudy. “I struggle with having Parkinson’s but having support from my friends and my community makes me feel positive and peaceful. With support, I feel that I can manage it, because where there is help, there is hope.”
Artemis adds, “In an unexpected way, having Parkinson’s can become a positive experience from the feedback and encouragement you get from the community, your friends and family.”
Want to create more awareness for Parkinson’s and help advancements in Parkinson’s research? You can fundraise your own way, like Rudy and his family. Start your own Fundraise Your Way event today.