In Australia today there are over 100,000 people that have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and by the end of the day another 38 people will be added to the list.

The challenge is, what do they do now?

There are various support groups to help guide you and assist with services; you are not alone.

Parkinson’s Victoria and all other states can assist with hooking you up with services and sharing experiences.

In Victoria, over 27,000 people are affected, and these numbers grow every day (Parkinson’s Victoria 2021).

Meanwhile, Shake It Up Australia Foundation provides funding for Australian-based research, funding universities and research foundations to seek out better treatments and one day a cure for this terrible disease.

Twenty per cent of all sufferers are under 50.

Let that sink in.

Michael J Fox was only in his late 20s when diagnosed and is now 60.

While 10 per cent of sufferers are under the age of 40, hence the Michael J Fox reference.

Imagine being in your 20s and knowing that something was not right with you; your whole life is ahead of you and now you have this to deal with.

The disease affects an estimated 10 million individuals worldwide – 100,000 in Australia.

The number of people with Parkinson’s has increased by 17 per cent in the last six years, with costs to the community increasing by over 48 per cent.

For comparison purposes, the prevalence of Parkinson’s is greater than prostate, bowel and many other forms of cancer. The total number of Parkinson’s sufferers is four times the number of people suffering with MS.

And Parkinson’s is the second most common neurological disease in Australia after dementia (Shake it Up Australia 2021).

So, I have been climbing mountains wherever I can, namely in Australia due to COVID restrictions, raising awareness and funds to help find a cure for Parkinson’s disease and partnering with businesses to help spread the message.

To date we have raised over $22,000, all of which has helped Shake It Up Australia to fund research in Australia.

I work as an allied health assistant in a rehab ward in Nambour General Hospital, now located in Gippsland from where I originated, caring for a parent.

Whilst in Gippsland, I will be trekking Wilsons Promontory, hopefully Mt Hotham, Mt Baw Baw and am open to joining or being joined by others.

A very experienced trekker and double vaccinated as well, keen to share stories and experiences as well as raise a conversation about Parkinson’s disease.

In April 2022, we are planning a big event. April 11 is World Parkinson’s Day to help with the fundraising.

Imagine climbing the height of Mt Everest, 8848m and then doing that again plus some 20,000m is a real challenge – this could be performed as an individual or as a team.

Find a local hill, mountain set of stairs, or step machine, and get a team together. Trek Ready Himalayas (@trekreadyhimalayas) will coordinate the event and all funds raised will go to Shake It Up Australia.

An awesome way to get fit, challenge yourself and your friends as well as raise a conversation.

I am looking forward to being able to travel back to Nepal in 2022 and take an awesome group of Australians to Mt Everest Base Camp.

We all know someone with PD, family, friends, extended family and, of course, patients. Raise a conversation today.

Gary McKitterick Gillett.