The Profession

Legal industry supports 500 Miles for Parkinson's fundraiser

Jim Downs, managing director of MKD International Inc., and Toronto trusts and estates lawyer Ian Hull are calling on members of the legal community to support 500 Miles for Parkinson’s, an event to raise $500,000 for disease research.

This May, former Toronto lawyer Harry McMurtry will walk 500 miles from New York City to his hometown of Toronto to raise money for Parkinson’s research. McMurtry, who was diagnosed with the disease more than a decade ago, will walk about a half-marathon (13 miles) a day for 45 days to reach his goal.

He will be accompanied on the walk by Sue Thompson of Toronto and Dr. Ross Sugar of Baltimore, MD. All three have Parkinson’s and walking this distance will be a tremendous challenge.

The 500 Miles for Parkinson’s event has attracted the support of some high-profile people, including musician Tom Cochrane, TV personality Jeanne Beker, Olympian Adam van Koeverden, as well as McMurtry’s father, Roy McMurtry, a former Chief Justice of Ontario and Attorney General of Ontario.

Hull, co-founding partner of Hull & Hull LLP, and Downs are members of a committee organizing and sponsoring this event, the proceeds of which will go to three charities: the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, 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.)

The walk will be bookended by two other events: a launch in New York City on May 6 and a wrap-up in Toronto in an effort to bridge two countries in the effort to raise money for, and bring awareness to, Parkinson’s disease.

McMurtry will begin his journey on May 7 and continue to June 20, making his way through New York State and Ontario.

Corporations, law firms and individuals can support the event through a combination of sponsorships (people can sponsor McMurtry for a mile or more of the walk) through the "buy a mile" program, donations, ticket sales, as well as silent and live auctions.

Those interested can donate and/or sponsor online.

“We are trying to get the word out about the event as it’s a fundraiser for such a worthy cause,” Downs tells

Hull agrees, saying: "Harry is one of our colleagues and he has been suffering from Parkinson's since he was 41 years old; he's now 54."

“We’ve got a large team that's going to be walking with him. There's all sorts of excitement around this and a tremendous amount of effort going into the fundraising event right now. We've got a great organization, literally hundreds of volunteers already.

“We expect to have events throughout the walk, and people will join in on the walk and we'll raise money.”

Along the route, McMurtry will stop at schools to meet students in an effort to raise awareness about the disease.

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