Edmonton man with Parkinson's and dementia gets support from strangers online

Jim Hamilton is benefiting from random acts of kindness after his daughter reached out to strangers on social media. The Oilers' Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is among those who have answered the call.

Physical distancing wasn't good for Jim Hamilton, so his daughter took to Twitter

Jim and Anne Hamilton, pose with their daughters Lynn Farrugia, left, and Maj-Britt Bigotti, right. (Supplied by Lynn Farrugia)

An Edmonton woman says her Twitter notifications are piling up after she sent out a tweet last weekend looking for support for her 85-year-old dad. 

Lynn Farrugia's father Jim Hamilton is battling Parkinson's disease and dementia. 

Because of the new COVID-19 rules around physical distancing, he hasn't been able to go to his day program, where he exercises and does activities.

So Farrugia asked her friends and Twitter followers for help.

She asked people to take a few minutes to send drawings, photos, or any interesting articles by mail. 

"At first I heard from a couple people that I know who have kids and that's sort of what I expected," said Farrugia, whose Twitter account has a modest 965 followers. 

She received a number of responses before one of her friends retweeted her original tweet.

That aught the attention of someone at ATB Financial who decided to take it a step further — and got the Edmonton Oilers involved. 

"That's when I realized, 'Oh my goodness, what have I done?'" said Farrugia.

Her dad has been an Oilers fan since Day 1.

He followed the team from its early years in the World Hockey Association, and before that, the Edmonton Oil Kings. During the Oilers' glory years in the 1980s, he was a season ticket holder for 10 years.

Farrugia's tweet eventually led to Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins responding with a tweet of his own via ATB's Twitter account. 

Anne Hamilton, Jim's wife of 56 years, played No. 93's message for her husband on their computer.

"Oh, he certainly was pleased and surprised to get the video from Ryan," Anne said.

Even in his struggles, there will be something there that he remembers.- Lynn Farrugia

The Nuge, as he's known to fans in Edmonton, also sent Hamilton a signed Oilers jersey.

"Then, of course, the jersey arrived, which was a surprise. I didn't think it would get here that fast," Anne said.

She took photos of her husband unpacking the jersey and holding it in his hands.

She shared them with her family.

"My dad has this wonderful little impish grin," said Farrugia, who got the photos via text message.
Jim Hamilton, 85, admires his signed Ryan Nugent-Hopkins jersey. (Supplied by Anne Hamilton)

"Just to see the photos with the grin on his face, and I just knew he'll never forget this. Even in his struggles, there will be something there that he remembers."
He also received a letter from five- and six-year-old siblings, photos of people's pets, and plenty of requests from people asking how they can write to Hamilton directly.

The gestures of kindness, in some cases from complete strangers, lift her husband's spirits and hers too, Anne said.

"It's been very heartwarming," she said, adding she may have to increase her visits to the mailbox.

"I think it's kind of exciting that you've got something to look forward to," she said.

"When I see how much he enjoys getting the things, then it makes me feel good."

About the Author

Min Dhariwal


In nearly 25 years of reporting, Min has worked all over the province covering countless breaking stories for CBC. He's also reported from the Olympics, Stanley Cup Finals, and the Grey Cup. Email: min.dhariwal@cbc.ca


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