Unity Walk for Parkinson's Qld

JOIN Queensland Reds and Wallabies player, Jake Schatz, and former Australian butterfly champion living with a chronic brain disorder, Ian Findlay, for Parkinson's Queensland's fourth annual Unity Walk on Sunday, September 9 in Brisbane. 

To commemorate the final day of Parkinson's Awareness Week (September 2 - 9, 2012), support the 16,200 Queenslanders living with Australia's second most common neurological disorder, by strolling from New Farm Park, along the Brisbane River, to Teneriffe and back, to raise community awareness and much-needed funds for Parkinson's disease.

Jake, who was named in the 30-man Wallabies squad last month, said it's a terrific way to spend Sunday morning supporting a great cause.

"The event will be jam-packed with live entertainment, a sausage sizzle, face painting and balloon art for the kids," he said.

>>Video - Striking a chord with complex Parkinson's

Ian Findlay, Australian butterfly champion in the early 1980s and a representative at the 1992 Pan Pacific Games, will be joined by his close-knit family to walk for the cause this week.

"People from all walks of life are encouraged to celebrate Parkinson's Awareness Week by joining the Parkinson's Queensland Unity Walk to support and honour those living with, or affected by Parkinson's," he said.

"This event is important as all funds raised will be invested into research and support services for those living with Parkinson's, their families and carers."

Ian held the Australian record for the 200 metre butterfly in 1983, and coached alongside Olympic and World Champion swim coach, Laurie Laurence when Duncan Armstrong clinched Gold at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

He is also a former Commonwealth Games Coach and Australian World Championship Team Coach. He was forced to surrender his career when diagnosed with Parkinson's, eight months after his first child was born.

Also diagnosed with Parkinson's at the young age or 30, Mary-Louise Lloyd, now 45, a Parkinson's Queensland 'Early Onset Ambassador' and professional photographer, is rallying for Queenslanders to support the cause.

"Nothing really prepares you for a Parkinson's diagnosis, or for what comes next, and how you and those around you will cope," Mary said.

"There's no typical pattern of progression, so it's hard to plan or really know what to do.

"But what motivates me most to continue living life to the fullest is what I'll miss if I don't face the day," explained forever upbeat Mary-Louise.

"Events such as the Unity Walk provide a fantastic opportunity to heighten public awareness and understanding of this degenerative disease, and to demonstrate support for people like me." 

"The Unity Walk is one way the community can really get behind Parkinson's Queensland - an organisation working tirelessly to support Parkinson's patients and their families," said A/Prof Mellick, former Parkinson's Queensland President and Clinical Neurologist at Griffith University.

"For each person diagnosed with Parkinson's, an entire family is also affected. This is the best way the community can unite and get behind the cause and show they care."

To register, or make a donation, visit www.unitywalk.com.au or call 1800 644 189. Children under 16 years can participate in the Unity Walk for as little as $15; adults for $25; a family of three for $50; a family of four for $75 and a team of 10 people for $225.              

About Parkinson's disease: 

Parkinson's disease is a chronic, progressive brain disorder caused by a loss of the chemical, dopamine, in the brain. Parkinson's - the country's second most common degenerative neurological disorder - affects the central nervous system, causing involuntary tremor, stiffness, slow movement and loss of balance. Parkinson's also results in non-movement symptoms such as depression, anxiety, disturbed sleep and bowel and bladder problems.

A Parkinson's diagnosis can occur at any age, although the disease is most commonly diagnosed between 50 and 60 years of age. Parkinson's has a significant impact on people living with the disease and their carers in terms of mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. Although there is currently no cure for Parkinson's, effective treatments are available to help manage symptoms.

According to Mrs Helen Crew, CEO of Parkinson's Queensland, more than 1-in-280 (up to 80,000) Australians are living with Parkinson's, with one Australian diagnosed with the disease every hour.

"Among Australians aged over 55 years, Parkinson's is more prevalent than breast cancer, colorectal, stomach, liver and pancreatic cancer.

"Yet, although Parkinson's causes greater disability than in people living with other conditions currently recognised as chronic, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and vascular disease, the disease is not recognised as a priority chronic condition in Australia," Mrs Crew said.

"Estimates suggest more than 115,000 people may be living with Parkinson's by 2031, which equates to an average growth of four per cent over the next 20 years."

About Parkinson's Queensland:

Parkinson's Queensland is a non-profit, community-based organisation established in 1986 to provide information, counselling and support to people living with Parkinson's disease. The organisation provides treatment and professional support services to those living with Parkinson's through education, counselling, advocacy and support.

Parkinson's Queensland runs a toll free info line (1800 644 189) and has a network of support groups State-wide.

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