This time it’s personal.
Through the years, Mary London-Fraser has dug into her pockets to help others raise money for a variety of causes.
Now the Langley resident is directly involved in a fundraiser in support of her mom, Lois, and in memory of her dad, Jack.
After a 10-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, Jack died Jan. 29.
Since Jack’s passing Lois has been lost without her husband of 62 years. To Jack, Lois was the most important person on Earth — and he treated her as such.
The grief Lois feels is immense.
“I cry every day,” she said.
Parkinson’s disease, for which there is no cure, is a progressive, degenerative brain disorder. Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali died from the Parkinson’s and actor Michael J. Fox has lived with the disease since his diagnosis in 1991.
It took Jack’s life at the age of 82.
“Parkinson’s stole my father,” Mary said. “I hate Parkinson’s.”
To help find a cure and to support the 13,000 British Columbians and 100,000 Canadians currently living with Parkinson’s, Mary and her family will be involved in the Parkinson’s SuperWalk Sept. 10 in White Rock.
Parkinson SuperWalk events are being held on Sept. 9 and 10 in communities across the country. In 2016, the event raised $2.15 million in Canada and since 1990, more than $35 million from the event has been used for support services, research, advocacy and education.
Locally, walks are being held in Pitt Meadows, Surrey, and White Rock.
It makes sense that Mary, her husband Rob Fraser, and their children Andrew, 24, and Jamie, 22, are taking part in the five-kilometre ‘SuperWalk’ in White Rock.
It’s where Jack and Lois spent their final 23 years together.
This will be Mary’s first SuperWalk experience and leading up to the walk, she’s already raised $1,950 as of Sept. 1, far surpassing her goal of $1,000.
“I started getting donations from people I went to high school with 40 years ago and haven’t spoken to,” Mary said.
“It was amazing how many people donated. I’m absolutely certain I’ll be at $2,000 before the walk.”
Six months to the day of her dad’s passing, Mary came across a notice on Facebook promoting the walk.
“I took that as a great sign that it’s been six months,” Mary said.
“I didn’t even know this (walk) existed, but on the six-month anniversary, boom, it’s there. I didn’t even have to think about it. I see it, I’m doing it.”
Jamie, who like Andrew had a very close relationship with her grandpa, said, “this is the first fundraiser that’s been personal.”
Mary feels her dad’s presence every day, and Sept. 10 will be no different.
“I always feel like he’s looking down on all of us, no matter what day it is, with a lot of pride,” Mary said. “He was a proud, proud man and his family was everything. But (Lois) was really his everything.”
The disease took its toll on Jack, a Royal Canadian Air Force veteran and retired senior forms analyst who worked for Air Canada for 32 years.
“I would say it was a slow but steady decline,” Mary said. “He had a hard time articulating, explaining himself, sort of changes that way. At the end he wasn’t even mobile. For the nine out of 10 years, he was walking for most of that time. Then he got a walker and did really well with his walker for quite a long time.”
Jack worked for Air Canada for more than three decades before retiring, and all his life he was “super outgoing,” Mary said.
“It doesn’t happen a lot in your lifetime where you meet somebody and you like them instantly,” Mary said. “He was jolly, he was warm, he was friendly… even at the very, very, very end, he never complained once, about anything. He always had a big smile for his nurses. The nurses and the staff loved him.”
About Parkinson’s Disease:
• The incidence of Parkinson’s disease is expected to increase 65 per cent by 2031 due to the aging population.
• Most common symptoms are: tremors (shaking), slowness of movement, muscle stiffness and problems with balance. Some may experience symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty with speech and writing, sleep disorders, depression and cognitive changes.
• Most people manage their symptoms through medication or surgical interventions such as Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS).
About the Walk:
• B.C. walks are being operated by Parkinson Society British Columbia under licence from Parkinson Canada.
• Parkinson SuperWalk is the largest nationwide fundraising event for Parkinson Canada. Approximately 10,000 people from coast-to-coast organize and take part in Parkinson SuperWalk.
• The SuperWalk in White Rock begins at the Kintec Store parking lot, 15195 Russell Ave. Registration is at 9 a.m. and the walk begins at 10 a.m.