Arthritis Sufferer Leaves Gift for Rheumatology Research

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Andreas Albert Nord, better known as Andy, developed a crippling form of arthritis early in life. Although he was hampered by constant pain, Andy was an optimist and believed research was key to “preventing the disease and its devastating onslaught.” He decided to include UBC in his will and created a gift to benefit rheumatology research

Born in Gotenhafen, Germany in 1942, Andy came to Vancouver with his parents when he was ten years old. He attended Bayview Elementary and Kitsilano Secondary. He was just fifteen when he felt the first rumblings of Ankylosing Spondylitis, a debilitating and painful form of arthritis that can cause the vertebrae in the spine to fuse together, significantly impairing movement and mobility.

In just a few years, Andy’s condition had deteriorated to the point where he could no longer attend school. Instead, he finished high school by undertaking a correspondence course and went on to study at Pitman Business College.

Andy was employed by Volkswagen Canada from 1964-1997, and called it “a life defining experience.” Although he needed a cane, walker or wheelchair from 1986 onwards, he was allowed to work remotely and was proud to be with them for 34 years without the need for any kind of financial assistance.

Before retiring, Andy moved to Port Coquitlam where he became an active volunteer. He divided his time between Eagle Ridge Hospital, the BC Special Olympics, and the Canadian Cancer Society, where he met his wife Jeanne Hunchak.

“As a youngster I volunteered for the BC SPCA. Cubs, Scouts, YMCA and Sea Cadets also played a huge role in my life. I never had a chance to fall off the rails of life,” Andy said. Arthritis wasn’t Andy’s only challenge. In 1979, he was diagnosed with cancer and between his two conditions he would undergo 13 major surgeries. Between the arthritis and cancer, Andy believed arthritis had the more devastating impact on his life. In 1995, he redrafted his will to include a significant gift that would establish the Andrew Nord Fellowship in Rheumatology Research.

The endowment would provide fellowships for doctoral students pursuing rheumatology research in any faculty at the university. In addition, Andy directed that a percentage of the proceeds from his RRSP/RRIF be used to support rheumatology research. His hope was “to find better ways to live with the disease, and to find the cause, leading to a cure once and for all.”

Andy passed away in 2010, but he shared that he always felt content, knowing his choices had taken him where he wanted to go. His advice to others was “get on with your life—you can do it. You will get assistance once you show your determination to ‘just do it’. Help others and reap the rewards of knowing that you are a part of a caring community.”