Claire Giallonardo loved her work. She had a demanding job in high finance that required working long hours with still finding time for family and community. Originally from Timmins, Ontario, Claire is proud of her French heritage. As a fully bilingual person with several credentials in business, marketing and finance, Claire was well-established in her big city job and commuting home to Brampton.
In 2014, everything changed; Claire was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Trying to juggle her fast-paced life, Claire was forced to slow down. “It was a big shock. I commuted every day for work and kept falling asleep behind the wheel. Stopping working at 57 was worse than the diagnosis and in 2017, there was no option to work from home.” Claire, upset, had to undertake the giant task of reorganizing her life and finances. “Now Parkinson’s is the boss. I must rest and take breaks until I get to do what I love to do.”
Claire was compelled to create art following a much-needed trip to Cuba. She found herself captivated by the vivid colors and paintings around her. “Nature and the arts have always left an important imprint on me. It makes me happy. I don’t know where it comes from, but I enjoy it. I enjoy the freedom it gives me.” It was at this point, upon returning to Ontario, that she met a group of French-speaking retirees who gave her the support she needed to continue.
The support Claire receives from her group motivates her to help others, including her brother. In her family, Parkinson’s is well known. In addition to her grandfather, her brother also has Parkinson’s disease, even though they both approach it differently. “It’s frightening, and you can’t hide it. Symptoms are visible. You have to embrace it and share it with other people. I’ve learned so much more from people living with Parkinson’s. My brother is shyer. People can only join a group or share when they are ready.”
Claire admits with her condition, there is anxiety and moments where she can’t walk and is exhausted, but she still manages to get out and be social. Last year, she was a member of a choir, and she continues to volunteer and raises money. Through SuperWalk and Facebook, she has raised a significant amount of funds for Parkinson Canada. Claire has high hopes for 2023. She is excited for the marriage of her son in August, as well as planning to exhibit her art. She also hopes for a cure.
Fundraising Your Way – Facebook Fundraising
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