Toronto man with Parkinson’s now on 500-mile walk

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Harry McMurtry on Saturday began a 500 mile walk from New York City to his home in Toronto to raise money for Parkinson’s research. It will take him 45 days to complete the journey.

As Harry has Parkinson’s disease, walking up to 15 miles a day  is a tremendous challenge and one that would not have been possible without funding that lead to research and discoveries that Harry has been fortunate enough to have access to as the disease’s defining characteristics are its effect on physical motor skills and agility.

In Toronto, he grew up with five brothers and sisters in a family known  as “the Kennedys of Canada” because of their father, Roy McMurtry, a  retired judge and  politician who was the second person ever to serve as  Ontario’s Chief Justice and Attorney General. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2009,  which affected his movement, ability to walk and  speech.

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Harry will be joined by two other walkers, Sue Thompson and Dr. Ross Sugar, both of whom also suffer from Parkinson’s disease to show their gratitude but raise awareness and funds to help the over 6.3 million people worldwide who suffer from the degenerative disease.

The project has already garnered a lot of media and celebrity attention with honorary patrons like hockey all-star Wayne Gretzky, Olympic athletes Adam van Koeverden and Ashley Holzer, rocker Tom Cochrane, fashion icon Jeanne Beker and other celebrities pledging their support.

Over the course of the 500Mile walk, the crew will be stopping to make school visits to engage and educate students about the disease and give them a chance to meet and walk with the crew as they pass through upstate New York before crossing over into Canada and finally arrive in Toronto  on June 20th.

The kick off gala on Friday at the beautiful Glasshouses space (in the Chelsea Arts tower)  hosted a handful of special guests all convening to celebrate and send off the 500Miles team before their departure.

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One community along the route has already filed a municipal proclamation to officially make June 13th “Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Day” in recognition of the project passing through.

Those interested in pledging support, making donations, or participating in the school program can find out more at

The proceeds from the 500 Miles for Parkinson’s bi-national project will be pooled and then shared amongst three beneficiaries: Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research; The Morton and Gloria Shulman Movement Disorders Centre at Toronto Western Hospital, University Health Network; Mount Sinai Beth Israel Movement Disorders Center in New York. – CNW

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