The contribution of the Paroian Family is an important one to the beginnings of our community. In 1997—following the PH diagnosis of their daughter Sherry—the Paroian Family were baffled at the complete lack of support and information that was available to those affected by this rare, incurable disease. This drove Leon Paroian—Sherry’s father and a well-established Ontario lawyer with strong connections in his local community—to make a stand and demand that things improve. This began with the founding of the PH Society of Ontario (PHSO) and the PH Society of Canada (PHSC), both of which had the set goal of finding a cure for PH. Through hard work and determination, the Paroian Family raised an incredible $2 million for Canadian PH Research, much of which helped fund one of the most important PH research trials currently underway today: the gene-therapy studies of Dr. Duncan Stewart.
Unfortunately, Sherry did later pass away from PH, leaving the family devastated. Leon realized he would need to step down from his leadership position at PHSO and PHSC to take care of his family and his own health. By this point, the need to unify the various PH groups spread out across the country has been identified. In 2008, Leon resigned from his organizations to give way to a new national PH association: the Pulmonary Hypertension Association of Canada.
The Paroian Family’s commitment to the Canadian PHamily continues to echo today, with the generous financial contributions of Leon and Sandra’s son Phil. Phil’s initial donation launched PHA Canada’s research scholarship program in 2016, and with additional community support and fundraising since then, we have been able to fund four such scholarships in only two years. Through this initiative, we continue to honour the legacy of one of the Founding Fathers of our community. We also commit to his vision of supporting research in order to further improve the lives of all Canadians affected by PH, and to maybe one day discover the cure that Leon so desperately wanted.