When Hans vanHamond was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, it was a confirmation of the battle he had been waging for almost two years. 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, founder and managing director of eQuality Support, 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 a massive $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. We spoke with Mark about his training, his inspiring fundraising goal and his advice for other’s looking to make a difference.
Hi Mark! Can you tell us a bit about eQuality Support and your role?
eQuality Support is a NDIS registered disability support service, with services across the Geelong, Surf Coast, Ballarat and Central Highlands regions. Our passion is in ensuring people with disability can live the life they choose. My role as managing director is leading the team into the future. We have incredibly passionate and talented people that make up eQuality Support, which makes my role so rewarding.
What drives your commitment to fundraise for Parkinson’s?
My father Hans drives my commitment, along with the 200,000 other Australians living with Parkinson’s. I want to make a positive difference.
Dad was diagnosed recently in 2022, and I’ve seen the impact the disease has had on himself as an individual and those around him.
This fundraising event has really given Dad the chance to continue his involvement in the community. And, he’s loving it. I’m also enjoying the positivity and purpose that it’s brought to him.
Why did you choose to raise funds for Shake It Up Australia?
I chose Shake It Up Australia, because one day I’d love to live in a world without Parkinson’s. This isn’t possible without research, and I know that’s what they’re all about. I’m incredibly proud to be working alongside Shake It Up in this fundraiser and think they’re an amazing organisation with an amazing team.
Why is $38,000 your goal? What would it mean to you to reach or exceed this goal?
My goal of $38,000 represents the 38 people diagnosed in Australia with Parkinson’s each day. To reach or exceed this amount would mean the world. It’s not just about the money, but about the difference. Each and every donation means so much. So to have the support and love in the community to achieve the $38,000 is something pretty special and a testament to all the amazing people out there.
How is your training for the Sydney Marathon going?
My official 20-week training program began on the 1st of May! The training program is written up and I’m just hoping my aging body will handle the training loads required. I know I’m not as young as I once was – but I feel I’m a little smarter and better at listening to my body than my younger competitive self.
Why do you think it’s so important to raise awareness about Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological disease in the word, and I know that my story is just one of the thousands out there. I hope by raising awareness, it also encourages others to come forward and share their stories. Together we can support each other and do so much more.
What words of advice do you have for others hoping to make a difference for Parkinson’s?
Each of us can make a positive difference, and we should all try. If you see an opportunity, big or small to become involved, do it. Reach out to those around that you that you can help, including organisations like Shake It Up. Together we can create change.
Read more about Mark and Hans’ story, and donate to support their fundraising campaign here.