There was plenty of applause at three Parkinson Society gatherings in Winnipeg, Ottawa and Montreal this fall when our National Volunteer Award recipients were honoured for their outstanding contributions to the Parkinson’s community in Canada. The National Volunteer Award program recognizes extraordinary volunteers, nominated by people in their own communities.
Jenna Sigurdson, 13, is the youngest person ever to receive a National Volunteer Award and has raised more than $40,000 for Parkinson Society Manitoba (PSM) since 2012. She has educated thousands of people about Parkinson’s disease by visiting homes in her neighbourhood, arranging assemblies at her school, appearing on TV and telling her story to radio and print journalists. She also launched a school-wide fundraising program.
“When I found out my Dad had Parkinson’s, I wanted to do whatever I could to help him and to help everyone else who has Parkinson’s,” explains Jenna. “I wanted to help find a cure and to tell people about Parkinson’s.”
The Sigurdson family is an inspirational team with father Blair leading the Young Onset Support Group and mother Karren organizing various events. Together, the Sigurdson family are recipients of the Spirit of Philanthropy Award, which honours volunteer leadership in raising funds and awareness of Parkinson disease in Canada. The award was presented to Jenna at the Parkinson SuperWalk in Winnipeg on September 6.
“I was surprised and honoured to receive the award,” says Jenna. “I hope it motivates others to do the same. And it shows that kids can make a difference too.”
Another recipient of the Spirit of Philanthropy Award is Richard Côté of Longueuil, Quebec, who received his accolades at a provincial gathering on October 24. Richard was honoured for his consistent volunteer leadership and his important role in raising funds for Parkinson’s disease in Canada. His work with Parkinson Society Quebec and his contributions as a board member of Parkinson Society Canada are complimented by his history as a founding member of the Fonds Quebecois de Recherche sur le Parkinson (FQRP). The FQRP secured $2 million for research over four years thanks in large part to Richard’s efforts.
Like Jenna, Richard believes that one person can make a difference. Although he does not have a personal connection to anyone with Parkinson’s disease, he has found his work for the cause to be a “very worthwhile experience – a growing experience. Like many people, I am convinced that giving of your time and talents can make a difference and directly benefit others.” When Richard learned he was receiving a National Volunteer Award, he was “very touched.”
Our third 2014 National Award recipient Alice Templin of Ottawa, Ontario, has touched many people with Parkinson’s in a very direct way. She received the Mimi Feutl Award at a celebration on October 28. A retired physiotherapist, Alice has managed the resource library of Parkinson Society Eastern Ontario (PSEO) for more than seven years and has been an active and dedicated education and support services volunteer since 2006. She has helped PSEO provide interesting and well-attended education days that have covered broad topics focused on living well, research and Parkinson’s challenges and solutions. In 2011, Alice served on the program planning committee (comprehensive care) for the World Parkinson Congress 2013 in Montreal.
“I volunteer for PSEO because I share its vision of hope and its values of collaboration and empowerment of those living with Parkinson’s,” says Alice. “I feel overwhelmed and humbled to have been selected for this award. There are so many people who have inspired me to do what I do.”
The Mimi Feutl Award is given to an individual who, through compassion and provision of information and support, has made life better for people with Parkinson’s and their families.