Sometimes it feels like Mom and I have memorized the blue prints to the stores, parks and entertainment venues we regularly visit. We know where all the bathrooms, ramps and stairs are located. This is our new normal since my mother, Sharon, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD) in 2008. We now prepare and plan each of our outings, timing them around her PD medication schedule. We are more reliant on others, but that’s okay because God has provided us with a great circle of friends who have helped each other through PD, cancer and grief.
We first unknowingly became involved with the National Parkinson Foundation (NPF) when we sought expert care and guidance from Dr. Richard Murrow and the entire staff at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, an NPF Center of Excellence.
In 2013, we attended our first NPF Moving Day® North Carolina Triangle. We have been involved every year since because of the support and encouragement it provides for Mom and for her caregivers. We learn a lot from the teams, vendors and health service providers that participate. Mom is blessed to have a large support network from Cool Springs Baptist Church in Sanford, NC, her coworkers, family and friends. Many of whom come out and walk with us as part of our team, “Sharon’s Southern Shufflers.”
Every year word spreads to more of our family and friends about how encouraging and fun it is. The last two years we hosted a team tailgate breakfast prior to the walk, where we catch up and thank everyone before the event starts.
Her coworkers at First Baptist Weekday Education host a “wear red” on the days leading up to the walk, where students and staff wear our team color in honor of Mom and raise PD awareness at the same time. We use social media and the team website to communicate logistics. All of our extra effort worked because we had nearly 90 people walk with us for Moving Day®!
This year, we all wore red ribbons in memory of my dad, Dale, who passed away in June 2016. He was Mom’s primary caregiver and biggest cheerleader for our Moving Day® team over the last three years.
To my mother and the entire family, Moving Day® shows us that we are not alone and reminds us that Parkinson's will not defeat us. We really try to embrace the event’s motto "People who move change the World." We move forward each day with a positive attitude and Mom still does all the things she enjoyed before her diagnosis, some just take a little more effort.
Our hope is that the way we respond to Parkinson's is a reflection of our faith in God's promises and power. "I have set the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken" -Psalm 16:8.