Dr. Ralph Richardson has been walking laps in his driveway for over 100 days to raise money and awareness for Parkinson Canada, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s himself three years ago.
Dr. Richardson (Ralph) is no stranger to Crandall University. His connection with the university starts way back in 1963 when he attended Crandall, at the time called United Baptist Bible Training School (UBBTS). In 1971 he returned as the dean of the Bible department, and in 1985 started a term as President that would continue until 2000. After stepping down as President he stayed on as a professor, and in 2001 Ralph was named the university’s first Chancellor. In 2009 he was awarded with Crandall’s Distinguished Alumni Award. His wife Berys also took some courses at Crandall, at the time Atlantic Baptist College, and Ralph’s caretaker Greg Hicks attended during Ralph’s tenure as President, though he says he never would have dreamed that he would be the president’s caretaker.
As Ralph battles Parkinson’s it is important for him to stay active. Until mid-March, when COVID-19 forced its closure, Ralph had been going to Rock Steady Boxing. Greg and Berys had to come up with another way to keep Ralph active. They set out on a goal to do 30 laps of the driveway. As they were nearing the end of their challenge Berys saw the story about Captain Tom Moore in the UK, who was walking laps in his garden 100 times to raise money for health care workers. Berys thought that doing something similar to raise money for Parkinson’s would inspire Ralph and keep him motivated. Their idea was to walk laps around their driveway for 100 days and try to raise $100 each day, for a total of $10,000! By day 45 they reached their initial goal and decided to adjust it to $25,000. On day 76 a group of UBBTS alumni from the 60’s, organized by Hal Cormier and Carol Thorne, showed up at Ralph’s drive way to encourage him, and present him with over $3,000 to help him reach his goal of $25,000.
The campaign took off slowly, and there was quite a bit of excitement to see those first few donations come in, but soon more and more people started to take notice. Over the course of the 100 days Ralph’s story has been shared through multiple media outlets locally and nationally. Ralph, Berys, and Greg have done interviews for CBC, CTV, and Buzz Local Moncton/Dieppe/Riverview. Ralph’s story has also been featured on Your Morning CTV, the Parkinson Canada website, and Tim and Sid’s good news segment – Ralph was even named an all-star before they retired that segment. Ralph was also named Parkinson Canada SuperWalk Hero. Ralph was also named CTV’s Maritimer of the Month on August 21, 2020 (which just so happened to be his 80th birthday!) The response to this campaign has been overwhelming to Ralph, Berys, and Greg, as they never expected that it would take off in this way.
The biggest highlight for Ralph during this has been the community. During his 100 days Ralph had many visitors come by from church, his neighbourhood, Rock Steady, and many classmates from UBBTS. Berys says that “The highlights for Ralph have been connecting with old friends, students, colleagues and alumni. He expressed the fact that this has brought more awareness of Parkinson’s and its challenges and has challenged others to get active who battle this disease.”
Throughout this campaign all three of them have seen God at work. They see God’s work through Ralph’s strength every day. They see God’s work in how the community has come together. Berys summed it up best “We have seen God at work in this venture by bringing people together–from the past, current friends, neighbours, and the Rock Steady Boxing group which he was a part of until COVID closed it. There have been opportunities to share our faith on the media and affirm many different people.”
For those not familiar with Parkinson’s, Berys describes part of it as Ralph’s energy peaks at about 11am, and it takes him about 90 minutes to get ready for the day. Some days Ralph can only do 5 laps of the drive way, other days he can do up to 20 laps. Everyday his determination to do as many laps as he can inspires those around him. At this point there is very little that Ralph can do on his own, but even still Berys says he never complains. In fact Berys shared this in a Facebook post: “Recently I asked him what he is grateful for and he said ‘Parkinson’s!’ I questioned him on this answer and he said, ’Look at all the good this walk is doing!’ with over $29,000 raised Ralph is certainly right about that.
To learn more about Ralph’s walk, or to see what day he’s on now (that’s right – he’s still walking!), you can visit his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/parkinsonwalker/