Hans and Mark's story

When Hans vanHamond was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in late 2021, it was a confirmation of the battle he had been waging for almost two years.

“If anything,” Hans said. “It just confirmed what my family and I already knew.”

Because for almost two years prior to his diagnosis, Hans had been living with the symptoms of the disease. His muscles were stiffening, his movement slowing, and his balance was worsening.

Hans’ family noticed that in addition to the physical symptoms, the disease had also taken a toll on his confidence. They observed a shift in his personality, as his once sharp wit and sarcastic remarks became shrouded by a cloud of anxiety.

“It’s really the things we take for granted,” said Diane, Hans’ wife. “Like getting into bed or changing your clothes. On some days, it can take Hans close to ten minutes to do those things.”

Diane, Mark, and Hans

Prior to his diagnosis, Hans’ confidence and natural leadership shined in everything he did. He dedicated over three decades to teaching engineering at Ballarat TAFE and served as the state president of the Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV). Not to mention responding to over 6000 calls across 55 years with the Country Fire Authority (CFA).

While Hans continues to fight Parkinson’s disease every day, his son Mark is determined to make a difference by raising awareness and funds for Parkinson’s research. Inspired by his dad’s courage and determination, Mark plans to run the Sydney Marathon in September to support those affected by the disease.

Partnering with Shake It Up Australia, Mark aims to raise $38,000, representing the 38 Australians diagnosed with Parkinson’s each day. And to kick-off the fundraiser, eQuality Support has contributed $10,000 to the cause.

“It was really important to me that my dad was involved with the fundraiser, as giving back to the community has always been such a big part of his life,” Mark said. “And when I told him that I was going to run the Sydney Marathon and asked him if he’d like to be involved, he said yes straight away. Later that day, he printed out a whole heap of information sheets on local Parkinson’s support groups and gave them to me.”

“I know that he can sometimes overthink things, so it’s been so positive to see him and Mum excited for what’s to come.”

Mark has already started training for the 42-kilometre run, fully aware of the physical and mental challenge he will face. Having ran a few half-marathons before, he knows what it takes to push himself to the limit.

Mark running

Hans expressed his pride in Mark’s decision to run for Parkinson’s disease and is excited to see how the fundraising goes.

“I’m really proud of Mark for running for Parkinson’s disease,” Hans said. “Mark is incredibly passionate and doesn’t start something if he doesn’t plan on finishing it.”

“He’s also out getting some exercise, which keeps him healthy. That’s all we can ask for as his parents.”

With over 10 million people worldwide and 150,000 Australians directly impacted by Parkinson’s disease, Mark hopes his fundraiser will inspire others to make a difference when they can.

“I’m running for Parkinson’s because I want to make a difference and I want to inspire the community too. I believe that as a community we can do so much more together,” Mark said.

“The Sydney Marathon has given me a way to help make a difference. And when the right opportunity comes along, I hope other people also realise that every one of us can make a positive difference and make the world a better place.”

Want to make a difference too?

Help us make a significant impact on the lives of people affected by this debilitating condition by backing Mark’s run. Even a small contribution from you can bring us closer to finding a cure.

Become a part of our fight against Parkinson’s and donate today!

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