Women for Parkinson's

Women who make it possible


Despite living on opposite sides of the country, Deb Voorheis and Carlota Lee share a commitment to Women for Parkinson’s. As an athlete, mother, event organizer, and community supporter, Carlota, a Vancouver resident (currently in South Africa attending a wedding and then safari), serves as an inspirational leader on the west coast. Deb, a resident of Toronto, is a partner at a professional recruitment agency, a consultant with an extensive fundraising background, and a philanthropist who strives to build high-impact teams. It is their shared passion to empower women and support people with Parkinson’s that drives them together.

Deb Voorheis

Deb Voorheis

Although their journeys differ, Deb and Carlota are impacted by Parkinson’s. Deb’s youngest brother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s almost twenty years ago. She has been involved with Parkinson Canada since 2009 and is actively engaged with Women for Parkinson’s. Her involvement has helped raise over one million dollars.

Carlota, herself was always active as a marathon runner and fundraiser. However, in 2019, a friend noticed she started running with a hunchback. She then went to her doctor and a neurologist, who diagnosed her with Parkinson’s. Later, Carlota discovered women are underrepresented in Parkinson’s research and that women with Parkinson’s experience risk,

Carlota Lee

Carlota Lee

“I still travel and exercise, but everything I do is now slower,” said Carlota of her progression of Parkinson’s. “Some people don’t like that it takes time, but it is good for them to learn a bit of patience.” Carlota doesn’t deny that Parkinson’s has changed her life; she also admits, “I can’t write anymore or speak as well. I’m on a waiting list for speech therapy as it’s annoying being at a party, and you can’t talk clearly, or people can’t hear you. I was once a chatty person.” Despite Carlota’s limitations, she is an influential woman that is deeply passionate about building relationships, organizing events, and raising critical funds to support the Women for Parkinson’s initiative. She has helped raise $425,000 for research through Porridge for Parkinson’s. It is through these events Deb and Carlota became acquainted.

“I love working with Parkinson Canada, and Women for Parkinson’s Deb reflects, “We had two big events this year. I led the Toronto one and Carlota the Vancouver one. She has endless energy, and it’s great to work with a community of women supporting each other and raising our voices to support other women.” Through her involvement, Deb hopes to expand efforts into Calgary and Winnipeg. “My goal is that we continue to expand Women for Parkinson’s. It would be great to get a national sponsor and build those relationships. So often, when I tell people what I do, their number one comment is I have an Aunt or Uncle with Parkinson’s. You find out the tentacles reach far.” Like many others involved, Deb knows getting the message out there for the over 100,000 people living with Parkinson’s in Canada is critical. “Parkinson’s is inclusive; It can happen to anyone.”

Women for Parkinson's Event

Women for Parkinson’s event in Toronto

“People think Parkinson’s is just tremors, but it’s unique to the individual, unique to women.” Carlota shared, “Education and building support is a big component. We must keep the conversation going and introduce people who want to volunteer in the community. Support women in every single endeavour.” Carlota’s big wish for herself in 2023 is to complete her ninth and final marathon. Although she is determined to stay active, she also has the same plans as Deb to continue leading and empowering women. Their passion for raising funds to support Women for Parkinson’s and building a national network of support makes it still possible.

Women for Parkinson’s is Parkinson Canada’s national network of dynamic and influential women. They come together to raise their voices and fundraise to support researchers working on Parkinson’s disease.

You are invited to partner with Parkinson Canada by sponsoring Women for Parkinson’s fundraising events across Canada. As a volunteer or sponsor, you will align yourself with Parkinson Canada, the country’s most trusted national Parkinson’s organization, while gaining direct access to this affluent and influential group of women.