KPRDSB Teacher is Sole Canadian on Mt. Kilimanjaro Fundraiser

In Local, Upcoming Events

By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
A teacher in the local school board is, so far, the only Canadian signed up for an August fundraiser to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise funds to fight Parkinson’s Disease.

Patrick Steeves, the son of Cobourg residents John and May Steeves, is heading for Tanzania for the climb, which is organized through the Michael J. Fox Foundation He is one of five people who have signed on so far for Team Fox (last year there were nine). Four of the climbers (including Steeves) have Parkinson’s, and the other is inspired by a family member with Parkinson’s.

Raised in Dundonald (a small hamlet between Colborne and Castleton), Steeves is an alumnus of South Cramahe Public School and East Northumberland Secondary School.

He has pledged to raise $10,000 in support of the the foundation, which is the world’s largest nonprofit funder of Parkinson’s research. Founded in 2000, it directs 88 cents of every dollar raised to accelerating the development of a cure.

Team Fox is the grassroots fundraising committee of the foundation, launched in 2006. Its thousands of passionate supporters have raised more than $110-million for the foundation.

The climb takes place Aug. 8, an easy time for Steeves to get away from his job as math teacher at Peterborough’s Adam Scott Collegiate Vocational Institute.

The party that arrives at the mountain’s base will also include support staff plus the porters.

“We carry our own day pack – everything else is carried by porters,” he said in a recent interview.

Located in Africa and soaring 19,340 ft. into the sky, it does not present the same survival problems that a Mt. Everest climb would pose.

“The appeal is that this is not technical and there is no specialized gear,” he added.

Everything fell into place for a climb this year, and he is all too aware that it’s something he may not be able to undertake in a future year.

“I feel healthy enough right now,” he declared.

Having signed on, and with a few months before the big day, Steeves is stepping up his exercise routine and has begun weight training as well.

He will pay his own expenses, including transportation to the site, and every cent of the money he raises goes to the foundation named after an actor everyone of his generation grew up with.

When Edmonton-born Michael J. Fox got his Parkinson’s diagnosis, he went high-profile with it and went on with his career. Acting gradually took second place, not only to his health concerns but to his advocacy for people like himself living with this challenge.

Canadians of Steeves generation can take pride in what a fellow Canadian has accomplished. And Steeves pointed out that another Canadian star known for his philanthropic endeavours,

Vancouver-born Ryan Reynolds, is on the foundation’s board.

Fox was 29 when he got his diagnosis. Steeves was diagnosed in his mid-40s. Two years ago, he began a regimen that includes the LSVT Big physical-therapy program, physiotherapy and medications. Though PD continues to impact his life, he has responded well to this course of treatment.

This favourable outcome is typical of what is known as young-onset cases, meaning anyone below the age of 50. These individuals do better for a longer time, as opposed to someone older getting the diagnosis – in most of these cases, he added, deterioration seems accelerated.

“I am among the more than seven million people worldwide living with Parkinson’s – the second-most-common neurological disorder. In Canada, approximately 6,600 new cases will be diagnosed this year alone. Currently, there is no cure for Parkinson’s. Together, we can change that.”

In addition to its research, he pointed out, the foundation’s website is unsurpassed at offering information that answers some of the questions he’s had.

“When I was first doing initial research, Canadian information was hard to find and locate. There was a Canadian group, some Ontario groups, a lot of regional groups – all had bits of information, but nothing connected This had everything in one spot,” he said.

“While my Parkinson’s journey is far from over, this is my chance to give back and make a lasting impact for all of those living with PD like me.”

The Facebook site he has set up (https://www.facebook.com/share/p/Ey6F5KhBLgNMmy6P/?mibextid=oFDknk) shares his story, and donations can be made at tinyurl.com/PatrickSteeves. It is set up to accept Canadian or US funds. Please select “Canadian” and provide details to ensure you get your Canada Revenue Agency tax-deductible receipt.

Cecilia Nasmith
Author: Cecilia Nasmith

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