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Gluskin Sheff chief economist David Rosenberg, whose father has Parkinson’s, says his family has seen first-hand how the disease progresses.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

The donor: David Rosenberg

The gift: Helping to raise about $100,000

The cause: Porridge for Parkinson's

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The reason: To fund research into Parkinson's disease

When David Rosenberg's father was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, doctors discovered something unusual about his family history.

The disease had affected several family members, so many that the Rosenbergs have become a topic of research.

"The incidence of Parkinson's through my dad's side of the family is multiples times higher than it would be for a typical family," explained Mr. Rosenberg, chief economist at Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc. in Toronto. It is even higher than in families that carry the gene, he added.

Mr. Rosenberg and his siblings are now part of a study at Toronto Western Hospital and the family history has been written up in medical journals.

When his firm agreed to sponsor an event involving Porridge for Parkinson's, a charity that raises money for research into the disease, Mr. Rosenberg wanted to become personally involved.

He is sponsoring the guest speaker for a breakfast on Nov. 3, which is expected to raise about $100,000 for the organization. The speaker, McGill University's Dr. Edward Fon, is researching an enzyme associated with Parkinson's.

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Mr. Rosenberg said he and his family have watched his father, now 87, cope with the illness for 20 years.

"We're living it," he said. "We've seen first-hand how it progresses and how it affects the quality of life."

But Mr. Rosenberg has also seen the huge advances in medical technology that have been made, thanks to continuing research.

"Twenty or 30 years ago, I think he would have passed on by now," he said.

"I see it first-hand how medical science has dramatically slowed down the progress of this disease."

pwaldie@globeandmail.com

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