In 2021, I received a weekly newsletter email from the local spin studio I’m a regular at in Sacramento, CA. The email was promoting the first Parkinson’s Revolution that would be held in just a few months. My grandfather (who we call “Papa”) was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) about 10 years prior. I immediately clicked the link to sign up because I had to support this cause that I had a close connection with.
Once I signed up and learned that I could also fundraise for the event, I thought “hey, why not?!” and I started bugging family and friends to donate. Ride day arrived and I was eager to participate and maybe connect with other people who were indirectly affected by Parkinson’s in the way that I was. As I approached the check-in table, I was greeted with welcoming smiles from the lead volunteer and Parkinson’s Foundation staff who hyped me up for being the top fundraiser! I was so excited. Once the event was over, Foundation staff asked if I would be interested in volunteering and almost four years later… I’m still here!
My Papa is a retired fire captain, was an avid golfer, enjoyed running marathons and could build just about anything before his battle with PD. He is the strongest and most humble man I know. When he was diagnosed with PD, I didn’t understand what was ahead of us as a family. I never really knew what Parkinson’s was. Through his battle with the disease, we’ve watched him lose his ability to do the things he loves.
Volunteering for the Parkinson’s Foundation has not only been rewarding, but also humbling and cathartic for me. During my time as a volunteer, I have been so lucky to meet other amazing volunteers who do not let their diagnosis get in their way from achieving anything and everything they want. I’ve met other family members of people with Parkinson’s who understand the heartbreak of watching your loved ones lose the ability to do the things they love as they age in their battle.
The connections I have made through the Parkinson’s Foundation have taught me what perseverance, strength and support really mean. I am so grateful to my fellow committee members, event participants and Foundation staff for being the community I never knew I needed.
The resources the Parkinson’s Foundation provides are just as important to caregivers and family members as they are to those living with the disease. My Papa is a pillar in my support system and saved so many lives in his career, and so my volunteer work through the Foundation is the best way I can honor him.
The Parkinson’s Foundation has created a community that is unmatched, and I am so thankful to be a part of it and to keep fighting for those who can’t always fight for themselves.