In a heartfelt tradition that gains strength with each passing year, families and (individuals) like broadcast journalist, Saphia Khambalia gather to pay tribute to their loved ones. Saphia Khambalia’s connection with Parkinson’s and her commitment to raising awareness is deeply intertwined with her unique family history and her determination to honour her grandfather Ramzan Manek’s legacy. As a host on The Weather Network and CBC News Saphia has also amplified Parkinson Canada’s message on the airwaves as a spokesperson for over a decade.
A Personal Connection to Parkinson’s
Saphia Khambalia’s connection to Parkinson’s stems from her grandfather’s diagnosis in 2008. A revered figure in their family, her grandfather’s battle with Parkinson’s unfolded as a sudden freight train. The stigma associated with Parkinson’s intensified the struggle. Her grandfather’s experience compelled her to challenge the stigma surrounding Parkinson’s. “After he passed, we wanted to continue to share his story. Things could have been different if we knew about this community. We didn’t even know what Parkinson’s was other than Michael J. Fox. Now, we know so much more, like many proactive ways to keep our brains healthy and acute, new treatment options and lifestyle strategies. If we accessed the community from the start our exp have been incredibly different.”
Saphia’s grandfather was among the South Asians who emigrated from Uganda. In the 1970s, her grandparents were forced to leave their home, and upon arriving in Canada, her grandfather, as the eldest, took up various odd jobs to assist other families in establishing themselves and finding a sense of community. Had they been aware of the Parkinson’s community through the years, Saphia is positive her grandfather’s journey would have taken a different course, inspiring and contributing to making a positive impact in the community. She is making it her mission to ensure that others access the support there.
For Saphia, SuperWalk is more than a fundraising endeavour – it’s a catalyst for change, removing the stigma and being a part of the Parkinson’s community. « The SuperWalk is incredibly powerful in dispelling the isolation, » Saphia explains. “It’s not the steps that are taken on walk day… It’s the steps that happen in the days and weeks after that give regular people, caregivers, our staff and researchers the extra boost of inspiration and dedication to remember the « why » the why we do this is huge.”
Preparation and Dedication
Participating in the SuperWalk requires dedication, and Saphia’s approach is compelling and practical. Whether or not someone can contribute monetarily, raising awareness amplifies the collective voice against Parkinson’s stigma. Saphia emphasizes the need to maintain a healthy lifestyle proactively each day and perpetuate family traditions, including a box of SuperWalk memorabilia that symbolizes Saphia and her family’s ongoing commitment. Saphia and her kids are often at SuperWalk and she can be found emceeing or speaking at the larger walks in the GTA.
Regardless of age or profession, each participant brings a unique story that contributes to the tapestry of hope and change. Saphia describes SuperWalk as a « family reunion » that provides families with an exceptional platform to come together, support each other, and remember their loved ones.
« I want to make sure everyone else in the same boat has the experience he didn’t have. There’s magic in the high vibes that come from gathering for this cause, there are ripple effects in each of the conversations that happen on walk day, there’s power in connecting and raising funds towards a cure, there’s hope in hearing the latest research and to use some of my weather background, there’s a 100 percent chance of SuperWalk being a ton of fun! And we all need more of that. «
Tune in for more SuperWalk and Parkinson Canada content on all of Saphia Khambalia’s platforms and watch for some Superwalk footage on the weather network. Follow @saphiatwn
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