Jerry is the most influential man in my life, Jerry. Jerry is not my biological father, but he has been my dad for the majority of my life. You can only imagine how upset I was when Jerry was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in 2013.
I cried on my husband’s shoulder for hours, not knowing what the future of this disease would bring. Jerry and my mom assured us that Jerry was going to be okay. Anyone who knew Jerry, knew that he was strong, full of life and a fighter. If PD could be beat, he was going to do it.
Little did we know, unlike Jerry’s cancer in 2004, Parkinson’s wasn’t something he could beat. In the last five years, Jerry fought hard — swimming, boxing, biking and walking. This photo of us is from Moving Day 2016. Jerry was always moving, one of his favorite events was the Ride For Roswell — a bike ride for cancer. Jerry started the Remission Commission, a bike riding group that enjoys cycling and hates cancer. Over the last 13 years, Jerry’s team raised over $200,000 to the cause.
What I wish we could do for people with Parkinson’s and their families is to educate them. Help them prepare for what’s to come. Moving Day is such a great event. Moving is so important, but often not that easy.
As his Parkinson’s progressed, Jerry began forgetting how to walk, eventually having to learn how to walk almost every day. Which makes the years that he was able to move without having to reprogram his brain that much more precious to us.
Swimming, boxing and biking are some of my fondest memories I have with Jerry and they all helped him fight! Buffalo, NY, weather can make it tough to get outside and ride or walk. There are so many amazing places in the Buffalo area to do inside that can keep you moving. Jerry loved KC Fitness, which teaches boxing to people with Parkinson’s. The staff and fellow boxers brought smiles to our faces. We would often swim at the Tonawanda Aquatic Center, which helped Jerry’s balance.
Jerry is no longer physically with us because of this disease. I would like nothing more than for there to be a cure and for Jerry to still be here. His strength lives in me. He would want other people going through what he went through to hear his story. If he was here today, he would be helping and educating families, friends and all loved ones that are affected by PD.
Jerry worried about my mom as she was his main caregiver. My mom is a truly remarkable person that fought this disease with everything she had. She learned how to take care of Jerry. I wish there were more resources to prepare her and Jerry for what was to come.
There are other Jerry’s, mom’s and families out there that need help fighting this disease. Let’s help them — keep on moving!
For more Parkinson’s resources visit Parkinson.org/Library or call the Parkinson’s’ Foundation Helpline at 1-800-4PD-INFO (473-4636).