I am still walking. Help me "Walk-off" Parkinson's Disease.
On September 24, 2017, I will be taking my sixth walk to fight Parkinson's, this year at the Walk Off Parkinsons event, sponsored by the Parkinsons Foundation for the Greater Capitol Area (PFNCA), at Nationals' Stadium in Washington, D.C. I will be taking my cane, but I could still use your help with the walk, either at the stadium or right now.
My Medical Status
I was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2009. I looked pretty bad back then. Although, I had been dieting on the Weight Watchers program, and lost 70 lbs., I didn't feel better and I lacked energy. My body was stooped over. My left foot was dragging. I fell and tore a couple of suits by then and couldn't provide a good explanation as to why I fell. And then, the weirdest thing -- my left hand would violently tremor whenever I yawned. Parkinson's is difficult to diagnose -- no x-ray, CT scan, or blood test will turn it up. Moreover symptoms vary from patient to patient -- and some symptoms have other causes. The disease can only be diagnosed clinically, as of now.
What Causes Parkinson's?
Parkinson's occurs when one's brain cells cease to produce dopamine -- an essential chemical produced by neurons in brain cells that aid body movement. We don't yet understand why this happens, but according to my good friend Dr. Ken Jacobson, a world leader in cellular research at the National Institute of Health, by the time the average patient is diagnosed with Parkinson's, 75 percent of the brain's cells have stopped producing dopamine. Until 1967, when Sinimet was invented, there was no effective treatment at all for Parkinson's Disease.
Back when I was diagnosed, I thought that within 5 years I'd be applying for disability. Eight years later it is very hard to tell I have the disease. I carry a cane, yes, but that is to keep me from falling. It works. And sometimes, I'm slow in movement and speech, or I get confused, and WAY to often, I physically speak or act out my dreams when I'm in deep sleep, greatly disturbing the sleep of my wife, a symptom called REM Sleep Disorder. But generally, most people don't see the major symptoms. I look pretty good, I'm still at work, and best of all, my speech is not impaired and although I've begun to get signs of dyskenisia, those events are rare, at least for now. I credit God, my doctor, and the people who make Sinimet. Also, I would buy dinner for the inventor of Azilect, a recently-developed Israeli medicine that (at least I think) has slowed down the progression of the disease.
Help me in my fight; it's not hard
While I am greatful for your prayers, and for God's help keeping me relatively well, I know that if my condition should worsen the folks at PFNCA would be there to help me (especially since they opened a new office in my community). Through them, I will be able to get help keeping fit, getting training to improve my speech and ability to be understood, and, of course, lectures on the latest research and treatments for the disease, related diseases, and the side effects of the medicines. PFNCA will have my back when I am most likely to fall.
I say this every year: The biggest part of my treatment is my annual fundraising for Parkinsons -- either through the National Parkinsons Foundation, or the local Parkinsons Foundation of the Nation's Capital Area ("PFNCA"). My teammates and I have over the past five years raised more than $30,000 (maybe more; I've lost count). Raising money for the PFNCA lets me feel like I'm not just sitting and waiting for the disease to overtake me, but rather I'm fighting back. And everytime I get an e-mail about a new donation, my adrenaline seems to flow making me feel even better.
Can you help me with my therapy? Please consider either making a donation or joining our team, Team Chareidim. We are named for the Biblical term for those who tremor or quake before God (see Isaiah 66:5). It is also the word used to describe the so-called "ultra-orthodox" Jews in Israel. (Making jokes about Parkinsons is another part of my therapy.) Individuals who have joined us in past walks raised over $1,000 each by simply sending an e-mail to family and friends who have been affected by a dear one's bout with Parkinson's. More than 1 million Americans suffer from Parkinson's. Even if you never met Muhammed Ali, Michael J. Fox, or any of the other notable people who suffered from the disease, you've probably had a good friend who had the disease. We all have. Consider making a donation in the name or memory of those persons -- not me. But if you want to join my team, simply click the button below that takes you to my personal page and there look for "Join Bruce's Team" and follow the cues. It will automatically sign you up with Team Chareidim.
How to Join Up or Donate
If you just want to give, you can do that via the button on my personal page that says "Donate" and then follow those cues. If you want to mail a check in, no problem, go to the home page and you'll find the address under "Contact Us." My goal, this year, is for our team to raise $5,000. If you fill out the computer form for donations, don't worry that it starts at $65 and goes up to $18,000. But you can give any amount you want where it says "Other."
Oh yes, you may not feel like joining us because of the walking. Don't worry. You can be on our team and not walk. If you do walk, there is a short route through Nationals Stadium and then onto the field; there is also a longer course around the outside of the stadium before going on the field. If I can do the walk, most anyone can.
One more thing, if you know some young people who want to do some public service, forward this message to them. They can either join our team or contact the PFNCA office becoming an event volunteer.
Please make a tax-deductible contribution today. You can make a donation now by clicking on the donate button or you can send your donation payable to Parkinson Foundation of the National Capital Area (PFNCA) to:
Parkinson Foundation of the National Capital Area
8830 Cameron St. #201, Silver Spring MD 20910
Please be sure to list my name and "Walk Off Parkinson's" in the memo line.
PFNCA is not affilaited with any of the many national organizations that focus on Parkinson's. Your support provides for a powerful and vibrant community helping those with Parkinson's live well.
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