Hum­mel fam­ily fight Parkin­son’s dis­ease through cre­ation of me­mo­rial schol­ar­ship

Prairie Post (West Edition) - - Southern Alberta -

Pulling to­gether is a hall­mark of the Hum­mel fam­ily, and through the cre­ation of the Ge­orge and Alice Hum­mel Neu­ro­science Award, they are sup­port­ing re­search at the Uni­ver­sity of Leth­bridge that will ben­e­fit fam­i­lies for years to come.

Sib­lings Ruth Hum­mel Thom­son (MA ’10), Eleanor (Hum­mel) Smith (BEd ’91) and Bernie Hum­mel re­cently es­tab­lished the en­dowed schol­ar­ship in mem­ory of their par­ents. Ge­orge and Alice would have cel­e­brated their 70th an­niver­sary this month, how­ever Ge­orge passed away in 2010 at the age of 83 and Alice six years later when she was 93.

A fam­ily who un­der­stood the value of hard work, Ge­orge farmed in the Cham­pion, Alta. district for nearly 60 years, while Alice, an ac­com­plished mu­si­cian from the An­der­son Sis­ters Or­ches­tra, taught pi­ano lessons to more than 200 stu­dents through­out the area. They raised six chil­dren, worked with their neigh­bours to help build a strong com­mu­nity and even­tu­ally moved to Leth­bridge to en­joy their golden years.

Not long af­ter, Ge­orge was di­ag­nosed with Parkin­son’s dis­ease, which to­day af­fects more than 100,000 Cana­di­ans, with more than 25 peo­ple in Canada be­ing di­ag­nosed each day. Although Ge­orge’s great sense of hu­mour never waned, the com­plex neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease took its toll.

By cre­at­ing the Ge­orge and Alice Hum­mel Neu­ro­science Award, the sib­lings are com­ing to­gether to hon­our their par­ents’ mem­ory and cre­at­ing a last­ing legacy that will im­pact fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

“Our par­ents al­ways taught us that ‘if we pull to­gether, we can do great things’,” says Eleanor. “We pulled to­gether as a fam­ily sup­port­ing dad in our fight against Parkin­son’s.”

The award is an en­dowed schol­ar­ship, with a min­i­mum $1,000 award given to at least one grad­u­ate stu­dent each year who is ma­jor­ing in neu­ro­science and study­ing Parkin­son’s or stroke.

“The three of us ben­e­fited from Al­berta post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tions,” says Bernie. “I didn’t go to U of L, but when we de­cided to es­tab­lish an en­dow­ment in hon­our of our par­ents, we knew the U of L was the right choice be­cause, as south­ern Al­ber­tans, mom and dad had a per­sonal in­ter­est in the Uni­ver­sity.”

Ruth, who com­pleted her Mas­ter of Arts at the U of L while work­ing full-time in the Ad­vance­ment Of­fice, was es­pe­cially con­nected. Dur­ing her time at the Uni­ver­sity, she learned about the ex­tra­or­di­nary brain re­search that takes place on cam­pus at the Cana­dian Cen­tre for Be­havioural Neu­ro­science

“Our goal is to play a small part in dis­cov­er­ing a cure,” says Ruth. “And for ev­ery stu­dent who re­ceives a schol­ar­ship, we want them to know: this is our vote of con­fi­dence in you and your work to­ward find­ing a cure for so many neu­ro­log­i­cal diseases that touch so many fam­i­lies. Be­cause of the work you do, there is hope some­thing bet­ter is ahead.”

Ge­orge and Alice Hum­mels from 1948.

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