Australian born like millions before, I came to America to fulfill my dreams. My unusual resume includes waiter, construction worker, underground nickel miner, DJ, and the highlight of my life, working in TV game shows including Hollywood Squares. I hosted The Gong Road Show for Chuck Barris and for Bob Eubanks of The Newlywed Game as well.
I am the artist of an eight-foot masterpiece that became the American Highrise image — The Bicentennial Presidential Inaugural. It is seen worldwide in more than 115 nations. Only in America!
I have traveled to perform game shows across the U.S. including the Las Vegas Hilton where Elvis performed and have worked with wonderful artists including Jamie Farr (MASH), and the late Rod Roddy (Price is Right). Seven years ago, during a show, my body began to shake continually. I did not want to know what was the cause. I was bullet proof.
In August 2011 I found myself in the hospital dealing with weakness, shaking and other symptoms. The emergency room doctor performed tests and referred me to one of the most caring neurologists that I could ever have. I visited the Parkinson’s Clinic in Springfield, MO, and treatment began. One of the biggest challenges I’ve ever had to deal with emotionally is asking “Why Me?”
I kept my performance schedule with the medicines and better nutrition. Exercise has been critical and being on stage was a wonderful way to keep me going. I woke up before dawn, traveling throughout the day, sleeping hours later.
Maintaining this level of high energy has become too much this past year. I had to call it a day. I now travel with my wife. She’s a singer and every opportunity that I have, I share my story asking for prayers to encourage support for research. I have learned so much about the disease and the research that is underway. I pray for the day when the cure is announced.
During our show, Hollywood’s Greatest Game Shows, Bob Eubanks brought me center stage to tell the audience about Parkinson’s. The audience stood to cheer for me and support me. After the show, people came up to me to tell of their loved ones battling this disease. It was comforting.
Today I no longer feel like the “lone ranger.” Today I feel that there is more awareness of this disease and I applaud Neil Diamond for making his story known. As an immigrant, Neil’s song Coming to America has always meant so much to me.
My doctor is upbeat and shares good news of research. Life is precious and I cherish each moment. I hope that my story helps those who deal with Parkinson’s. There are many people praying for me and others like me. Surely, my faith, friends and family sustain me!
Learn more about Parkinson’s research at http://www.parkinson.org/research.