Two main Parkinson’s disease organisations in Malta have joined forces under the name of Together for Parkinson’s for the launch of a fundraising campaign called Sport for Parkinson’s.
During a press conference, leaders of voluntary organisations Step Up for Parkinson’s and Malta Parkinson’s discussed a number of events that will take place in collaboration with local sporting associations in order to raise funds and awareness about the disease.
The events consist of a 24-hour badminton marathon by Evolve Badminton Academy, as well as darts, table tennis, snooker, and veterans football tournaments throughout the month of April.
Parkinson’s disease affects around ten million people worldwide and currently over 2,000 around the Maltese islands.
Malta Football Association (MFA) vice-president Adrian Casha, who is spearheading the project, told the media that they are hoping this will become an annual event.
Coming out during the launch as someone who is also suffering from the disease, Casha said that while his experience as a sporting official has helped shape his determination, the two local organisations were instrumental in helping him accept and fight Parkinson’s.
“It was not an easy thing to come out in public saying you’ve got Parkinson’s but when you do something like this, you are both giving and receiving as your experience gives courage to others,” Casha told the press conference.
Casha explained that both organisations are different but they complement each other – Malta Parkinson’s focuses on empowerment and education while Step up for Parkinson’s offers classes that he said are inspiring.
“The beauty of this is the fact that we’ve gone into sports. Here we can see the potential of collaboration with the younger generation of this country”
Nathalie Muschamp, founder of Step Up for Parkinson’s, said that the idea of the collaboration is to create a ‘holy trinity’ for people with Parkinson’s.
“People with Parkinson’s don’t just need Step Up For Parkinson’s, they need also Malta Parkinson’s and healthcare practitioners and so we want to make sure that we collaborate together and raise more awareness so that more people know about both organisations and that eventually, we can continue working with the government,” Muschamp said.
Malta Parkinson’s general secretary Alice Peplow added to this by saying that people with the disease need empowerment and as someone who has suffered with her late husband Michael through his time with the illness, awareness, and knowledge would have surely helped her be of more support to him back then.
“As an organisation, we hold monthly meetings every second Saturday. We bring speakers related to the disease and they explain things to help people suffering from Parkinson’s because we believe that nobody should go through it alone,” Peplow said.
“If there is no awareness, not even the family can understand how the person is changing. But this knowledge encourages us to help and understand more what they are going through.”
President Emeritus Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, who was also present at the launch and under whose patronage the event will take place, lauded the organisations’ effort particularly for joining forces, saying that because she is a firm believer in strength in numbers.
“I was overwhelmed by this,” Coleiro Preca told the press conference, “when Adrian (Casha) and Nathalie (Muschamp) came to me and told me about it being a collaboration, I was even more encouraged to support this cause.
“The beauty of this is the fact that we’ve gone into sports. Here we can see the potential of collaboration with the younger generation of this country. “This is, to me, intergenerational support and it is a very beautiful thing – encouraging our youth to understand that even if they have yet evaded such illnesses but they are thinking of those in need of a shoulder, the effect is all the more great.
“I hope this awareness continues to grow so that youths continue to understand that even though we lead very competitive lives, this does not hold us back from thinking about others.”
The press conference also served as a launch for an educational children’s book called ‘Iċċaqlaq Nannu, Iċċaqlaq’.
The book written by Doris Schembri and illustrated by Mildred Atanasio, serves to educate children about the disease and how they help their family members in an effective, yet fun way.
All proceeds from the book will go towards the organisations.
Sports Events for Parkinson’s
24-hour badminton marathon – April 9
Darts for Parkinson’s – April 9
Table Tennis for Parkinson’s – April 10
Snooker for Parkinson’s – April 23-24
Veterans Football – April 30
For more information about the events and organisations, one can visit the campaign’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/togetherforparkinsons