Man with Parkinson’s disease refuses to give up on dream of sailing
As they prepare to set sail, Steve Van Vlaenderen takes his time.
“Physically, I’m a lot slower on the boat so I’m a lot more cautious,” he tells CTV News Toronto.
That’s because he is living with Parkinson’s disease and his motor skills are deteriorating.
Van Vleanderen was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease back in 2011.
Despite moving a bit slower, Van Vlaenderen refuses to give up sailing. (CTV News Toronto)
“I feel fear, anxiety - particularly when I’m leaving a harbor and going into a harbor in windy conditions.”
Battling that fear, Van Vlaenderen is far from his home in Winnipeg. He is at Bluffers Park Marina with his partner Darlene Hildebrand.
At a time when they were expecting to enjoy life, Van Vlaenderen learned that his time would be limited. It was then that he was told that he should give up sailing.
Van Vlaenderen says sailing helps him to forget about his disease.
“Steve just couldn’t accept that,” his wife says.
“This was his dream. He wasn’t going to give up on it. And we’re hoping to inspire others.”
His dream is to sail the Great Lakes and they are now in the final stretch.
He already covered Lakes Superior and Huron last summer and this year they started in Lake Erie and moved through to Lake Ontario.
While Van Vlaenderen can be fearful, he has also noticed that sailing helps him therapeutically.
“My Parkinson’s seems to disappear. I don’t think about Parkinson’s when I’m sailing.”
The couple also want to send a message to anyone else who is suffering from the disease.
“People that have Parkinson’s should not give up their dream. They should stay active. Get involved in anything that you can,” Van Vlaenderen says.
So though he takes his time, it is time well spent.