Callum hadn’t yet been born when his grandfather, Wilbert, began showing signs of Parkinson’s disease. It wasn’t until the family returned to Canada from Australia that that the youngster began developing a relationship with Grandpa Bert.
Bert was the kind of man who loved to go out into the bush to cut wood and bring it in for the winter. He and his wife Mildred, a former schoolteacher, were well known in their village along the Rideau Canal, just south of Ottawa. Mildred cared for Bert at home until the last few months of his life when he moved into a nursing home.
When Callum’s parents decided to participate in the SuperWalk for Parkinson’s five years ago, they named their team Grandpa Bert’s GDP. Callum’s mom explains: “The P is for Parkinson’s. The GD is for…well, let’s just say he never called it just Parkinson’s, he always added a g-d- in front. So we thought he’d get a kick out of it as our team name.”
Bert Baker died in November 2008 at 83 after a 10-year battle with Parkinson’s, but Grandpa Bert’s GDP team is stronger than ever. Eleven-year-old Callum led the team last year and raised $4,000. It was the first walk since his grandfather’s death; so many community members honoured his memory by supporting the team. Grandpa Bert would have been proud!