Joe Dunn, newly named Reach Further campaign co-chair for the Parkinson’s Foundation Heartland chapter, attributes his desire to support Parkinson’s disease (PD) research to his late grandmother’s 10-year battle with the disease.
Further inspired by the ambitious goals set forth in the Reach Further campaign, which include raising an additional $30 million to advance research and expand care and community programs, Joe and the Dunn Family also pledged a leadership campaign gift of $250,000.
The campaign’s emphasis on expanding PD GENEration: Mapping the Future of Parkinson’s disease, which will provide up to 15,000 people with PD no-cost genetic testing and counseling, is particularly impactful for Joe and his family.
“This campaign, and its focus on genetic research, is really important to the family because we are at risk later in life,” said Joe. “The reason I stepped up is because this focus on identifying the genetic factors of PD is something I think lots of people will want to get behind and donate towards, and I want to be part of that."
As Reach Further regional co-chair, Joe will lead campaign fundraising efforts within the Parkinson’s Foundation Heartland Chapter and will work to inspire others to support the campaign’s critical goals.
Joe, who lives in the Kansas City area, close to top medical providers, is passionate about the Reach Further campaign’s focus on expanding quality neurocognitive care into the rural regions that the Heartland chapter encompasses.
“Across the country, access to specialized care in rural areas is a huge issue. My grandmother had a top movement disorder specialist who is director of the Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Many others don’t have access to such high-quality medical attention but lots of people with PD would like access to that level of care.”
For Joe, the Foundation’s three-priority approach to research, care and community support also matters tremendously. “The thing that sets the Parkinson’s Foundation apart is the community outreach and education pieces,” said Joe. “Ultimately, you need a holistic approach to deal with a complex disease like PD.”
Joe recalled that prior to his grandmother’s passing in 2013, there was much uncertainty around her diagnosis, as well as a hesitance to share her struggles with her family. “For the longest time, no one knew what she had,” Joe said. “She was hunched over for the last five years of her life, but did not talk openly about it. She was embarrassed that she needed help. This is why I feel so strongly about creating awareness and acceptance around PD, in her memory.”
Joe offered the following advice to other families who are dealing with Parkinson’s: “The biggest thing is to be supportive and be patient. A lot of people don’t want others to know what’s going on, but be supportive anyway you can, and be proactive about reaching out for resources and help. The Parkinson’s Foundation is a great place to start.”
Join the Dunn Family in helping us Reach Further. Donate and check our campaign progress at Parkinson.org/Reach or call us at 1-800-4PD-INFO (1-800-473-4636).