An interview with Tim Hague from U-Turn Parkinson’s & PD Avengers on 8/3/2023 by Dr. George Ackerman
Tim is a retired nurse of 20+ years who devotes his time to professional speaking, writing and as founder of the Parkinson’s Wellness Centre, U-Turn Parkinson’s. He is a cofounder of the Global Alliance to End Parkinson’s; The PD Avengers. He is a published author (Penguin Random House Canada) of the bestselling book Perseverance: The Seven Skills You Need to Survive, Thrive and Accomplish More Than You Ever Imagined. He has spoken for Tedx and is sought after across North America for his motivational and inspiring presentations. After having been diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 46 Tim and his son went on to win the first
season of the reality television series The Amazing Race Canada. He is an outspoken and
effective advocate on behalf of people living with Parkinson’s around the world.
Please tell me a little about your background.
I was born in Texas and grew up in Kansas City. I was 46 years old when I was diagnosed, and it came as quite a shock. My adopted father had died with the disease, and I had nursed many Parkinson’s patients, but I never imagined I would one day deal with it myself. I had a large family. After high school I went to a Bible school and met my wife there. We were married a couple of years and decided to move to Canada. We have four children.
I feel incredibly blessed for having prior experience to navigate my own diagnosis, but on the other hand, it can be terrifying as I fully understand what my future may hold (Ng, 2020).
Can you tell me more about your advocacy?
I started U-Turn in 2016 because we know exercise is the best thing that can be done for Parkinson’s disease. Supporting U-Turn Parkinson’s means fighting for a community of individuals to gain access to a holistic approach to living with Parkinson’s. Whether you participate in fundraisers, become a ‘U-Crew’ member, or donate to our cause you are helping people at all stages of Parkinson’s live their best.
U-Turn Parkinson’s seeks to empower those living with Parkinson’s in their pursuit of wellness. We are committed to supporting them through a holistic approach and see wellness as an active process through which people become aware of and make choices toward a more successful existence.
What is your passion and how did you get involved in Parkinson’s awareness and hope for a cure?
I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in mid-life. I am a registered nurse by day and a professional speaker and writer the rest of the time. I overcame the odds when I went from a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease to becoming the inaugural winner of CTV’s The Amazing Race Canada. I believe that, like many others who suffer with a myriad of other ailments, we can live to our fullest when we choose to persevere.
The Amazing Race
Tim and his son, Tim Jr., won the inaugural season of the TV reality adventure competition, The Amazing Race Canada. In the aftermath of that victory, he became an ambassador of the Parkinson’s community, speaking about his experiences to audiences worldwide and starting U-Turn Parkinson’s, a charity based in Winnipeg, Canada to promote wellness in PD.
An organization called Parkinson’s Canada called me right after the race and asked me to speak at the World Parkinson’s Congress in Montreal. I had no clue what the World Parkinson’s Congress was, but I said that I would be interested. I was put on the schedule as a surprise speaker and was given five minutes to speak. I put my talk together and flew out to Montreal, and those five minutes blew up my world. Because of those five minutes, I have a speaking career now. It has literally taken me around the world (APDA, 2018).
What type of goals do individuals with Parkinson’s have when working with you?
We aim to inspire, inform, and provide the tools needed to improve one’s quality of life. We do this by offering various classes that include boxing, yoga, aerobics, singing, support groups, educational sessions, and special events. We are always looking for new ways to continually fight back against this disease.
Physical activity has been proven to reduce symptoms, slow progression, and support individuals in maintaining or improving their quality of life. Our disease-specific programs are rooted in evidence-based practices and incorporate the latest research. We provide a diverse range of physical activity and wellness programs, along with educational opportunities and engaging events.
Empower people living with Parkinson’s.
Our “U-Crew” can help lead exercise stations, work one on one with participants who need assistance, and overall bring joy and positive energy into every class.
For more information see https://www.volunteermanitoba.ca/view_volunteer_opportunity_details.php?id=2962
What effect can it have on an individual with Parkinson’s?
We see wellness having 6 focuses: intellectual, occupational, spiritual, physical, social and emotional. At U-Turn Parkinson’s we aim to provide the tools for the person living with Parkinson’s to pursue wellness in each of these categories.
U-Turn Parkinson’s is a Canadian charity is committed to helping individuals live their best despite Parkinson’s. We rely solely on the donations from individuals, foundations, and corporations to fund our mission.
The 6 prongs of wellness
Physical, occupational, intellectual, spiritual, social, emotional. The goal is in time to tackle all those pieces because they make up the whole person. Some of us can get up and exercise very easily, but we don’t manage, maybe, the emotional piece well. While others manage other pieces well, but maybe not the exercise. We need to look at the whole person and address all their needs.
What would you like to see as a future goal for your programs?
To establish our own commercial retail space for our offices to operate our programming from
What events do you participate in?
I am cofounder of the PD Avengers along with Larry Gifford and Soania Mathur and I’ve also spoken for most of the other organizations at one time or another.
How does this also assist the caregivers?
Caregivers and individuals with PD can become volunteers. Volunteers assist class instructors as needed and can provide one-on-one support to various participants. Volunteers will also be given opportunities to participate in any special events that are organized throughout the year.
How can someone get in touch? What is your website?
How can others also become advocates for awareness?
Individuals with Parkinsons and caretakers can become advocates though many venues. As a member of U-Turn Parkinson’s not only do you gain access to wellness classes, but you gain a community of people that understand the difficulties you may be facing in day-to-day life at all stages of Parkinson’s disease. We not only care about your physical well-being, but we empower you by providing a social and emotional support team that truly understands and cares about each of our members.
For more information see https://uturnparkinsons.org/our-classes/
If you had one final statement or quote you could leave for the Parkinson’s community, what would it be?
I would encourage the Parkinsons’s community to live their best. To have the strength to simply do their best every day, despite Parkinson’s. To have the courage to be content with what their best produces and have the will to persevere. To carry on in your journey, even in the face of difficulty. Even when there’s a little evidence of success. Because your journey, your race can be a success as well.
American Parkinsons Disease Association (2018). A Discussion with Time Hague. Retrieved from https://www.apdaparkinson.org/article/interview-with-tim-hague-author-perserverance/
Ng, C. (2020). Parkinson’s Life: Young onset Parkinson’s: “How I look is not how I feel”. Retrieved from https://parkinsonslife.eu/tim-hague-sr-parkinsons-interview/
U-Turn Parkinson’s (2023). Empowering people living with Parkinson’s. Retrieved from https://uturnparkinsons.org/
CBC Radio (2017). Boxing program helps patients with Parkinson’s. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/radio/nowornever/leap-into-action-with-these-intriguing-canadians-1.4108123/amateur-boxers-throw-a-punch-at-parkinson-s-1.4109121
Oswald, B. (2013). Running for his life: Local Amazing Race Canada contestant faces a bigger challenge every day than the ones he tackled on reality show. Retrieved from https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/entertainment/tv/2013/07/13/running-for-his-life-2
Misner, I. (2020). Parkinson’s Life: Young onset Parkinson’s: “How I look is not how I feel”. Retrieved from https://parkinsonslife.eu/tim-hague-sr-parkinsons-interview/
Parkinson’s Canada (2023). New Online Fitness Classes Empowering People Living with Parkinson’s. Retrieved from https://parkinsonpost.com/new-online-fitness-classes-empowering-people-living-with-parkinsons/
Tedx Talks (2015). Beginning life with Parkinson’s at the age of 46 | Tim Hague Sr. | TEDxWinnipeg. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=N3zSSV11bLA