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500 Miles for Parkinson's fundraiser celebrates at Queen's Park with premier

Former Toronto lawyer Harry McMurtry and the team behind the 500 Miles for Parkinson’s fundraiser will complete their walk from New York City on June 20 with a closing ceremony at Queen’s Park, says Jim Downs, managing director of MKD International Inc.

Premier Kathleen Wynne will be among the guest speakers who will mark the completion of the 500-mile walk to raise funds and awareness about Parkinson’s disease. Jon Collins from Parkinson Canada and Smokey (Warren) Thomas of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) will also speak at the celebration. 

Downs, along with Toronto trusts and estates lawyer Ian Hull, co-founding partner of Hull & Hull LLP, are members of a committee organizing and sponsoring the fundraiser. They have been encouraging the legal community to donate to the campaign and to join the walk as it completes the final leg of the long journey on June 20. 

There will also be a wrap-up event at 7 p.m. on June 22 at Steam Whistle Roundhouse.

The successful fundraiser saw McMurtry, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease more than a decade ago, leave Manhattan on May 7 to walk to his hometown of Toronto — all in the effort to raise $500,000 for disease research.

“They have received a ton of support from people along the way — it has been quite an adventure for them,” Downs says. 

Hull describes the fundraiser as truly inspiring.

"The excitement has skyrocketed since the kick off in New York," he says. "I participated in the Kingston event. The energy that Harry and the other walkers still have is astounding." 

Hockey great Wayne Gretzky supports the enterprise as have a host of other well-known people, including musicians Tom Cochrane and Martha Johnson, TV personality Jeanne Beker, Olympians Adam van Koeverden and Ashley Holzer, as well as radio personality Andy Barrie and McMurtry’s father, Roy McMurtry, former Chief Justice of Ontario and Attorney General of Ontario.

Estee Lauder Cosmetic Ltd. (Canada), The Joyce Foundation, Alan C. Greenberg Memorial Fund and others have made large donations to the cause.

Corporations, law firms and individuals supported the event through donations, ticket sales, as well as silent and live auctions. Many sponsored McMurtry with a donation for a mile or more of the walk through the campaign's "buy a mile" program. 

McMurtry's journey was tracked on the event's Facebook page, which includes inspiring videos of the walk's progress. 

For those who have not yet donated, it’s not too late — it can easily be done online

People can also show their support by walking to Queen's Park with McMurtry and attending the closing ceremony, says Downs.

They can join the walk at Front and York Streets in downtown Toronto around 10:15 a.m. on June 20. From there, it continues to Osgoode Hall at Queen Street and University Avenue, where there will be bagpipers for a meet-and-greet from 10:45 a.m. until just after 11 a.m. It will leave Osgoode Hall around 11:10 a.m. to head to Queen’s Park for the closing ceremony at noon. 

Downs says there will be music, people cheering and tons of excitement at Queen’s Park.

The proceeds of the fundraiser will benefit three charities: the Michael J. Fox Foundation; the Morton and Gloria Shulman Movement Disorders Centre and the Edmond J. Safra Program in Parkinson’s Disease at Toronto Western Hospital (led by Dr. Tony Lang); and the Mount Sinai Beth Israel Movement Disorders Center in New York (led by Dr. Susan Bressman.)

 

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