Sandra Tourigny

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Q: How did you become a part of PWP/ParkinGo and how long have you been attending class?

I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s on Nov.18, 2008, while living in Calgary. At that time my husband, Gil, and I spent our winters in Phoenix. The following March, while in Phoenix, I met a woman with Parkinson’s , at my fitness class, and she invited me to go to a Davis Phinney event in Tucson. I knew very little about Parkinson’s at this time because I had “buried my head in the sand” since my diagnosis. That day, at Davis Phinney Victory Summit, changed my life! Becky Farley was one of the speakers and she talked about her work with exercise and Parkinson's and how she had developed BIG movements and vigorous exercise specifically for the disease. Since then, I have been to 3 of Becky’s week long retreats for Parkinson’s in
Phoenix and to her gym in Tucson twice. I saw how important exercise was but also the importance of just
being with other “Parkies” and sharing. Exercise had always been a part of my life so I thought “this is the
disease for me!” But now, I realize it is not only exercise but “community” that is as important. In 2012, Gil and I moved to Victoria. I discovered on the internet that Jillian Carson had a group of Parkies meeting at Panorama Recreation Centre to exercise together, so I contacted her and joined the group. There was Chris, Brian, Diana, Jillian and me. I soon realized how knowledgeable Jillian was and how she was connected with people and organizations all over the world regarding Parkinson’s. We would go for coffee afterwards at the The Roost and she talked about her dream of a Centre and that we needed to get organized because there were lots of others with PD who were not being well served. She and Diana came up with the name ParkinGo, which we thought was so “cool” not realizing that it would eventually have to change because of confusion with airport parking. So that is where the name ParkinGo was formed! More joined our group so we moved to Greenglade Community Centre, from Panorama. Bill, another Parkie, who had lived in Tucson for awhile and had gone to Becky’s classes, lead us in the PWR! exercises that Becky had developed for Parkinson’s. When he left, Lori lead our classes. She volunteered all her time and went to Tucson, to Becky’s, to learn the “moves” as well. Soon Terry came on board and with his financial background got our name registered and a charitable number. A couple of years later, a second site at the Ukrainian church, closer to downtown, was opened and more instructors added. Now here we are, today, a not for profit with lots more classes, super instructors, a new home of our own and the community that Jillian dreamed about! We are lucky to be in Victoria!

Q: What does PWP mean to you?

PWP means community to me. It means support. It means caring. It means understanding. It means exercise. It means fun. It means friends. I feel blessed to be a part of this wonderful organization.

Q: Any words of advice for people who are newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease?

My advice to those newly diagnosed with PD is to tell people you have Parkinson’s. You never know where that will lead. If I hadn’t told the fitness instructor in Phoenix, that day, I never would have met the woman with Parkinson’s who took me to that Davis Phinney Victory Summit in Tucson.

Q: What is your favourite place to go walking in Victoria?

I love to pole walk. I put my music on to a great beat, grab my poles and am out the door. I find the music makes my movements so much easier and fluid. I live near Lochside trail so walk there and have discovered lots of other trails around my home. I also love to walk the Songhees Walkway, Mystic Vale at U of Vic and along the waterfront in Sidney. We are fortunate to have so many wonderful places to walk in this beautiful city.