Sarah to put best foot forward for worthy cause

Sarah McFarland with her father Mervyn Forsythe.
Sarah McFarland with her father Mervyn Forsythe.

A Ballynure woman will be stepping closer to a cure for Parkinson’s by taking part in the Walk for Parkinson’s at Antrim Castle next month.

Sarah McFarland, whose father Mervyn Forsythe has the condition, will take part in the fundraising walk organised by the charity Parkinson’s UK for the second year to show her determination to help the case for more support for people living with Parkinson’s.

This year’s walk on September 30 consists of either a 2km (1.3 mile) or 5km (3 mile) walk along the grounds of the castle – and Sarah is encouraging more locals to sign up to raise money for the charity’s research to find better treatments and a cure for the condition, and support those living with it.

Sarah explains: “My father Mervyn was diagnosed with the condition thirteen years ago at the age of 48, but doctors think he may have been living with it undiagnosed for as many as 20 years before that.

“I try to participate in as much awareness raising and fundraising activity as I possibly can, so that we can provide more support to people with this horrible condition.

“The Antrim Castle walk is a great opportunity not just to do that but also to meet new people from all walks of life and of all ages and discuss their fears of what the future with the condition will look like.

“I do the shorter walk as my dad is in a wheelchair and I know he enjoys coming along and seeing people too.

“It’s a great opportunity for him to get out and meet people, Parkinson’s Disease can be a very lonely disease but when he gets out to an event you really can see a change in his mood that particular day. It is good to talk to people who face the same situation and to know no one needs to face this alone.”

For the Forsythes, it is a full family affair too, with Sarah’s brother Colin taking part in the Lagan Zip Slide to raise funds for Parkinson’s UK on August 19.

Parkinson’s UK is the leading charity driving better care, treatments and quality of life for those with the condition. Its mission is to find a cure and improve life for everyone affected by Parkinson’s through cutting edge research, information, support and campaigning.

The funds raised by the walk will help Parkinson’s UK to provide support and ultimately find a cure for the 3,700 people across Northern Ireland currently living with Parkinson’s.

Sky Sports presenter and Champion of Walking for Parkinson’s UK Dave Clark has commended Sarah. He is encouraging as many people as possible to get involved in the event after he was diagnosed himself in 2011.

Dave said: “Thank you to Sarah for signing up to walk with us again this year.

“We want to make 2018 our biggest year yet for the Walk for Parkinson’s series. I’d like to invite everyone, whatever their level of fitness, to take advantage of the many different types of walks, scenic routes and distances available. Exercise can be really beneficial to people living with Parkinson’s. It is as important to me as my medication in helping me control the symptoms.

“So please join us at the Walk for Parkinson’s at Antrim Castle. Every step takes us closer to a cure and our goal of improving the lives of everyone affected by Parkinson’s.”