For our October Volunteer Project, the Brownieland Team participated in the Moving Day Atlanta – A Walk for Parkinson’s event coordinated by Parkinson’s Foundation Georgia. On October 16th, friends and family gathered in Piedmont Park to support the Movers and Shakers Team, a group put together in honor of our friend, Susan Brown. She raised over $25,000 for this important cause bringing about awareness for Parkinson’s Disease.
Learn more about Susan’s story in this month’s guest blog post:
On Halloween, at 4:00 p.m. 2017, I received a phone call from my neurologist confirming a diagnosis of Early Onset Parkinson’s disease. I strongly suspected I had Parkinson’s because I had developed symptoms that resembled those of my father, who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s in his fifties also. For two years, doctors chased down symptoms that included a stiff hand, achy shoulder, tremor in my left foot, and fatigue. I was alone when the call came in, and I distinctly remember standing in the kitchen wondering how I was going to manage being a mother of two teenagers, a caregiver for my father, a wife, a friend, and a colleague at the Atlanta Speech School with Parkinson’s. How would I tell my parents who would worry about me constantly as soon as I told them? I didn’t want my father to blame himself for the genetics, and I didn’t want to sign up my husband for a future that would look very different than we envisioned.
After four years, I am finally settling into the reality of living with a progressive neurodegenerative disease. I take 20 pills a day. I exercise (and I’m not an exerciser), and I battle brutal insomnia. But, I have an excellent team of doctors, trainers, family, and friends. I decided early on that I wouldn’t make assumptions about my path relative to my father’s progression, and I would find a community of Parkinson’s patients and caregivers to join. I’m an open book, and Parkinson’s is now part of my identity. I needed to find my Parkinson’s village.
Cue the Parkinson’s Foundation of Georgia. Serving on the advisory board for the Foundation has given me a sense of purpose and a way for my family to rally around the hope that a cure is one the way. Most importantly, it has provided a framework for me to focus on putting a face to Parkinson’s disease. It is a marathon that affects the whole family, and it is me!
Moving Day is an opportunity to celebrate our friends and family who walk with us on the Parkinson’s journey. Our team, the Atlanta Movers and Shakers (pun intended), just finished participating in our 4th walk, and I’m proud to share that we raised over $28,000 this year for the Foundation. Team members included friends and family from coast to coast and even international members! We asked that folks share our team page with nine people this year. Every nine minutes, someone is diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the United States.
Most days, my Parkinson’s is at the top of my mind. There are very few moments when I forget I have it. However, not long after being diagnosed, I attended a birthday party where I spent joyful hours dancing with friends. A friend recently reminded me to keep dancing. I plan to!
Parkinson’s Foundation Georgia makes life better for people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) by improving care and advancing research towards a cure. This nonprofit organization provides education, resources and programs throughout the state of Georgia. Whether a person is newly diagnosed with PD or has been managing it for years, a care partner, family member or friend of someone with PD, the Parkinson’s Foundation is here to help
Each year, the Parkinson’s Foundation Georgia hosts the Moving Day experience which includes fitness demonstrations, information booths, its signature We Move Ceremony and of course, the Moving Day Walk. Moving Day gives people a chance to speak up about Parkinson’s disease and move others to take action. It is a movement for change—towards more awareness, more funding, and more understanding of a disease that affects so many of our family and friends.