JILL Goss admits living with Parkinson’s disease can be scary, but knows all too well that family can help lighten the load.
The 77-year-old Taylors Lakes resident and Parkinson’s Victoria ambassador was diagnosed 17 years ago and has taken part in fundraising event A Walk in the Park for Parkinson’s each year since its launch 10 years ago.
Jill is getting ready to take part in the 10th annual walk on August 26.
Joining her will be a big group of supporters that will include her husband David, daughter Natalie and her family, and her son, actor Shane Jacobson, who is also an ambassador.
A number of friends will also take part, including members of the Avonde Calisthenics College class Jill still teaches and members of the Essendon Parkinson’s support group she leads.
Jill said the group always tried to remain jovial to help new members come to terms with their diagnoses – and the walk created a similar jovial atmosphere.
“We enjoy the walk as a family. We get in early, have breakfast in Federation Square, do the walk and then get together for dinner.”
“It (Parkinson’s community) is like a family. Not just your own family, but the Parkinson’s family.”
She said the walk was primarily about fundraising and spreading awareness, but added it was also a strong source of support to people with dementia.
She had witnessed several people coming to terms and finding more peace with their diagnosis at the event over the years.
Jill said she managed well with the illness for the first 16 years, but in the past year she had encountered a few more difficulties.
She has had two falls and while she has completed the walk in a wheelchair for promotional reasons before, this year might be the first where she may need it for physical reasons.
Despite her additional difficulties in terms of mobility, she still believes in the importance of remaining upbeat.
Humour has been a valuable tool to help Jill and David deal with the illness.
“We make a joke of it,” she said.
“When someone asks why I don’t have a walking stick, I say because it shakes when I use one!”
Showing support a walk in the park
Thousands of people are expected to head to Federation Square to take part in A Walk in the Park for Parkinson’s on August 26.
Entering its 10th year, the event will begin at 9.30am with pre-walk entertainment including live music, massages, kid-friendly activities and the pre-walk warm-up.
The non-competitive walk starting at 11am will see participants compete in either a 2km or 4km return circuit through Kings Domain.
Registrations for senior walkers will cost $30 or $40 on the day.
The event is presented by Parkinson’s Victoria and organisers hope the event will raise $275,000 for Parkinson’s research.
If you can’t make it to Melbourne, walks will also be held in regional Victoria, including Bendigo, Horsham, Mildura, Warrnambool, Yarrawonga and Wodonga.
Register at parkinsonswalk.org.au or call (03) 8809-0400.