Sean climbs mountains to raise funds and awareness for Early Onset Parkinson’s Disease
Thursday, 31st August 2023

Sean hikes to Mt Everest Base Camp to raise funds and awareness for Early Onset Parkinson's Disease

In January this year, Sean was diagnosed with Early Onset Parkinson’s Disease at just 36 years of age. The diagnosis came as a shock to Sean and his family, with no family history of the disease. Since being diagnosed, Sean has committed to raising funds and awareness for essential research into better treatments and a cure for Parkinson’s disease. We spoke to Sean about his upcoming hike to Mt Everest Base Camp in 2024, his experience with Parkinson’s disease, and his commitment to making a difference.

Hi Sean, can you tell us about your upcoming Mt Everest Base Camp trek? What’s involved?

I am trekking to base camp in early January 2024 with one of my best mates. Neither of us have had any hiking experience so we are throwing ourselves in the deep end! The tour goes for 14 days which includes some 2 altitude climatisation days on the way up and back. My google research says that January be will probably the coldest month of the year in Nepal which just adds to the challenge.

What inspired you to trek to Everest?

Since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in January 2023, I was really keen to do something challenging and worthy enough to draw people’s attention to raising awareness for Parkinson’s disease. I was contemplating riding across Australia or running a certain distance however trying to manage work, family, and social commitments it was going to be difficult to put the time in to train. I am 36 years young and still have so much of my life to live and I didn’t want to let this disease stop me yet from achieving great things in life. Everest was never on the radar until a mate threw out the idea and I loved it. There will be tough moments hiking for back-to-back days and managing my symptoms with cold weather heightening the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

How will you be training for the trek?

Getting lots and lots of km’s into the legs! I am lucky that in Victoria that there plenty of hiking routes and places to work towards preparing. I don’t think I will be able to adjust to the altitude in preparation however getting the body to the necessary fitness level will be vital. I will be getting out walking and hiking most weekends. It will also be important to identify what the impact on my symptoms is, and finding the best way to manage these in preparation for Everest.

What drives your commitment to fundraise for Parkinson’s research?

I look at my personal situation and can understand the challenges that I have in knowing when you are having good days and bad days, the extra stressors both physically and mentally are significant. If I can do anything to help better my life and any others that are dealing with the same challenges, then everything I am doing is worth it.

Science and technology are moving so quickly and if my fundraising can help quicken any potential treatments or even a cure for this disease, it would be incredible.

There is so much unknown about Parkinson’s and by raising awareness it can only benefit everyone who is suffering or supporting loved ones who are dealing with it.

What do you wish people understood more about Early Onset Parkinson’s Disease?

I believe that I am an example of someone being quite unique to have the disease identified so young. I had symptoms for over 12 months without being diagnosed. If identified quicker things could have been addressed earlier. There might be people out there with symptoms that don’t even know that they have Parkinson’s. Hopefully by me creating awareness of my situation, it can maybe help others in the same age bracket.

Why did you choose to raise funds for Shake It Up Australia?

When doing my research on foundations that supported Parkinson’s research, I didn’t want my fundraising money to go to administration costs and got lost in overall business incomes. I was impressed that 100% of all donations to Shake It Up go directly to cutting-edge Australian Parkinson’s research thanks to the founding directors who cover the cost of charity administration. This was the key reason I chose to support Shake it up. The more I have researched Shake it up, it is doing some fantastic things in the way it is supporting Parkinson’s research.

What words of advice do you have for others hoping to make a difference?

Things aren’t going to improve or get addressed if we aren’t doing our best to find treatments that slow, stop and cure Parkinson’s. We need the support of everyone in the Parkinson’s community to band together and make others aware of this disease.

If you are thinking about doing something, bite the bullet and do it. We can’t let having this disease stop us from living our lives. We will only make progress if others help to make a difference.

Shake It Up hero Sean says science and technology are moving so quickly and fundraising is vital to fast-track the search for potential treatments or find a cure for Parkinson's. Click To Tweet

You can support Sean along his journey by visiting his fundraising page.