Written by May Ly & Soraya Mangal

Multiple Certificate Presentations on-stage-at-once L to R: Event Honourary Chair, Nirmala Armstrong; MPP Billy Pang; WPP President, Nadeem Hussain; WPP Founder, Dr. A.Q. Rana; MPP Daisy Wai, MPP Logan Kanapathi

The World Parkinson’s Program (WPP) hosted over 400 members of the community at their 3rd Annual Gala, May 3rd at Crystal Fountain Event venue. Among them were local politicians, special guest speakers and even an internationally renowned comedian.

Also in attendance was Lloyd Robertson, who is both a local resident and a national treasure hailed as Canada’s most trusted voice in news reporting. Robertson shared the stories of his close family friends who have suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and also made a generous donation to the program.

The gala itself raised over $70, 000 this year, up from around $40, 000 next year.

The World Parkinson’s Program is unlike any other Parkinson’s charity in that they provide humanitarian aid to patients both in Canada and around the world. Founded by Canadian Neurologist, Dr. A.Q. Rana, the WPP is also in the fight for a cure to this puzzling disease and splits their time between research and aid.

The event was filled with inspirational stories by guest speakers like John Baumann, a U.S. lawyer who was diagnosed with the disease in 2002. Also on hand was Global News Producer Larry Gifford of the Award-winning Curiouscast podcast “When Life Gives You Parkinson’s.” He launched it after his own diagnosis in 2017.

Baumann fills halls and auditoriums both in the U.S. and abroad, on his mission to help as many people affected by Parkison’s or any other conditions. Most importantly, to discover the benefits of being positive to which he told the WPP Gala, “Parkinson became apart of my life in 2002, I refuse it to become my entire life.”

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have,” he continued.

Choosing to be strong and doing everything you can in life that is possible, especially when a cure is not in sight, is the philosophy that the WPP is based upon.

Municipal representatives from around the GTA also gathered on-stage to honour the work of the World Parkinson’s Program. L to R: Khalid Usman, Ward 7 Councillor; Andrew Keyes, Ward 5 Councillor; Shabbir Razakazee;
WPP Exec. Director; Dr. A.Q. Rana, WPP Founder; Jim Karygiannis, Ward 22 Councillor (Scarborough-Agincourt); and Keith Irish, Ward 1 Councillor.

The WPP is an advocacy organization that educates and supports people with Parkinson’s disease in its mission to help those who need it most.

Gifford also shared his compelling journey in being diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s while stressing the importance of having access to necessary medications.

Dr. Rana revealed some of the compelling facts around PD, such as between 6000 – 7000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s every year. The number reaches as high as 16, 000 – 17, 000 in the U.S.

Alan Ho, Ward 2 Councillor and Khalid Usman, Ward 7 Councillor provided significant support to the World Parkinson’s Program Gala both within the community and through sponsorships

To date, roughly 10 million people are affected by Parkinson’s globally, and these are only the ones who have been diagnosed. Education and materials in 20 different languages are also provided by the WPP to 70 different countries as many do not know they even have it.

Simply put, having Parkinson’s Disease without access to the necessary medications will result in nothing working in the patient’s body.

For information on how you can support the World Parkinson’s Program, click HERE.

Photo credit: Martin Kwok