Michaelea Silver is only six years old, but she's doing her part to help raise $2.5 million - the amount the Parkinson Society of Canada hopes to generate at this year's SuperWalk for Parkinson's disease.
Michaelea doesn't know a lot about Parkinson's, but she's quick to tell you that she "shares her mommy with her nanny" - her way of acknowledging that caregiving often means sharing those closest to you with other people that you love. She's collected $80 in online pledges, so far, she tells you excitedly.
Michaelea's grandmother, Biddy Walsh, has had Parkinson's for 18 years.
She and her husband, Leo Walsh, live on Pearltown Road, as do two of their daughters and their families, including Michaelea's parents, Callista (Walsh) and Michael Silver.
Biddy and Leo are both in their mid-seventies, and Biddy now sleeps on a hospital bed in the living room.
Leo used to own and operate a farm until he became disabled almost two decades ago, Callista Silver says during an interview in her garden just down the road.
"Dad had a quadruple bypass and was forced to sell his cows and quota," she said.
"If that never had happened, Mom probably wouldn't have been able to stay in her own home, so there's definitely a keeper of the stars."
Parkinson's is a chronic, progressive, neurological disease that causes motor functions to deteriorate. It doesn't affect the brain but rather leaves the person trapped within a body that does not function - often unable to stand, speak clearly or swallow food.
"Boost, 7-Up and water are basically keeping Mom alive now," Callista said.
Her father is a severe diabetic who's had his feet partially amputated, yet he continues to be his wife's main caregiver.
"Dad lifts Mom, gets her in and out of her chair - he does everything for her," Callista says. "The only thing he doesn't do is bathe her. And that's because of a balance issue, not a comfort issue."
She and her sisters take turns checking in on their parents and taking care of their mother's personal needs.
It's important for their father's health and well-being that he gets breaks throughout the week, Callista says.
"Even just for Dad to get out and go walk around the mall, buy some lottery tickets - he really needs that time to himself," she explains.
She's been volunteering with the SuperWalk for Parkinson's for the past eight years, helping to raise awareness as well as money for education, support, advocacy and research.
As Biddy and Leo arrive at their daughter's house, Callista watches as her father lifts her mother out of the car and places her in her wheelchair.
She says she and her siblings worry about them both. Her father's hearing is failing, and the diabetes has affected his eyesight.
Add to that worry the cost of her mother's drugs - close to $1,000 a month - and life isn't easy for her parents, Callista said.
"Dad was just told by an audiologist that he needs hearing aids and they are over $2,000 each. He worked all his life and paid into an insurance. Now, when you get a certain age and need these things and they're not there for them, that's really sad."
Leo settles his wife in her chair, and wheels her onto the front lawn.
A quiet, friendly man, he says he worries about what the future holds.
If the government allowed him to sell some of the land that he once used for his dairy farm, he says, the money would help pay for his hearing aids and his wife's medications.
The past 15 years have been the hardest in his life, he says, and he wouldn't be able to care for his wife without their daughters' help.
Biddy listens as her husband talks. She and Leo celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary Sept. 1.
Biddy acknowledges she has wondered why she has been stricken with Parkinson's.
"But I've been lucky, because I've got my husband and my family to look after me," she said.
The 19th annual SuperWalk for Parkinson's takes place in St. John's, Carbonear, Bonavista, Grand Bank, Grand Falls-Windsor, Corner Brook and Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Sunday.
To donate to the SuperWalk or to sponsor Michaelea or any other walker, visit www.superwalk.com
Slowness of movement
Stiffness or rigidity of muscles
Difficulty with balance and walking
Change in voice volume and speech
Difficulty with fine movements, such as handwriting
Tendency to shuffle with decreased arm swing when walking
Parkinson's' affects nearly 100,000 Canadians, including more than 1,600 people in this province, many of whom are cared for by loved ones.
Source: Parkinson Society of Newfoundland and Labrador