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Amid the cheers of supporters and the skirl of bagpipes, former Krembil Neuroscience Centre patient Harry McMurtry and his team completed their 500 Miles for Parkinson’s fundraising walk in Toronto.
The 52-year-old, who set out last month from New York City on foot with two others also diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease – Dr. Ross Sugar of Baltimore, Maryland and Sue Thompson of Toronto – arrived at Queen’s Park just before noon Monday to a welcome fit for conquering heroes.
The trio was greeted by family and friends at the Legislature. Also there to welcome them was Premier Kathleen Wynne, former Premier Bill Davis and one of his longtime cabinet colleagues, Roy McMurtry, the former Chief Justice of Ontario, who is Harry’s father, and other guests including Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden. Toronto Mayor John Tory was among those attending a rally earlier in the day.
The welcoming committee also included representatives from the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the movement disorders team at Toronto Western Hospital and other UHN staff, and Parkinson's Canada.
Prior to Monday's "final mile," which was capped by a walk up University Avenue to the provincial Legislature, the group, which was walking about 20 kilometres a day, staged dozens of rallies and events during their journey all in the hopes of raising awareness – and $500,000 to fight the disease.
Proceeds will be pooled and divided among three beneficiaries, one of which is Toronto Western Hospital's Morton and Gloria Shulman Movement Disorders Centre and The Edmond J. Safra Program in Parkinson's Disease, which is led by Dr. Anthony Lang, Director of the Program.
Parkinson's disease, which affects more than 100,000 Canadians, is characterized by slowness of movement, muscular rigidity and stiffness, tremors, and impaired balance.
Organizers of the 500 Miles for Parkinson's walk plan to honour the efforts of Harry, Sue and Ross with an event at Steam Whistle brewery in Toronto on Wednesday. Sportsnet television personality Caroline Cameron will host the event. Visit www1.fivehundredmiles.org for details on buying tickets and making a donation.