CHAMPs > Parkinson's CHAMP

December 2011 - Miracle Marvins

It was October of 1999.  The world was worrying about the year 2000 and its effect on the computer systems (Y2K).  I was working for a large company’s Information Systems group in charge of the Y2K project for their Telecom department.  It was a typical “bite off more than I could chew” day.  I was in my office getting organized for a meeting and had gotten a late start because I had just come from my flying lesson early that morning.  I was a bit worn out having stayed up late to work on a project for the MBA program I was doing.  This is when I felt a flutter in my left pinky.  My pinky was moving on its own.  My assistant at work said “Maybe you have that thing Michael J. Fox has.”  I just laughed.  I thought it was a pinched nerve or something.  See, I was also in the process of testing for a black belt in a martial art called Aikido.

I waited until January 2000 to go to the doctor, who sent me to a neurologist, who then referred me to a movement disorder specialist at NYU.  Where, in March of 2000, at the ripe old age of 35, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD).  I remember looking at my wife and both of us looked at the doctor and said, “So what do we do?  What medicines should be taken?”  There was no shock; no “why me” moment... I think we both already knew.  I was trained in Aikido to blend with whatever comes your way.  This was no different.

Over the next two years, I focused on what was important in my life.  I stopped the MBA program because I was in it for the wrong reasons.  I had to put down flying lessons due to medications.  I eventually went out on disability from work to relieve the stress.  It took this disease to make me understand how important my time with family is.  I forgot to mention that October, 1999 was the month my fourth son was born.  I realized how much the training and teaching in Aikido was helping me both physically and mentally.  My neurologist, Dr. DiRocco, and I believe that my Aikido training has a lot to do with my continued good health and slow PD progression.  View Ken's YouTube video for more information about his Aikido training. 

In 2003, we heard about the Unity Walk and decided it was time to get involved.  I told my family we were creating a team called the “Miracle Marvins” and asked for their support.  I could never have imagined how much support I would receive.  Family and friends from all over the United States came and/or donated to the team.  2012 will be our 10th walk and we have raised over $100,000 in these past 9 years to help find a cure.

My wife and kids have given me full support.  My sisters Karen, from Texas and Kim, from Michigan have made it to the walk all nine years that I have attended.  Karen has a part time job that funds her trip out to NY and her generous donation every year.  Kim raises funds through her work, friends and family.  My brother Kevin in Michigan has made it to the Walk a couple of times and runs a fundraiser every year in the restaurant where he works.  Even my parents have come from Florida a few times and donate every year.  My Mother says, “…Dad and I wish we could make it out every year.  We are very proud of the way you have faced this horrible disease at such a young age.  You have accepted it and continued with your life raising a family with the help of your wonderful wife.”

Submitted by Ken Marvin

Written by Linda Marvin, Ken’s wife:

I know this might sound crazy, but so many great things have happened in the past 11 1/2 years since my husband was diagnosed with Parkinson's.  I know that he has shared most of them in this article.  However, I'd like to share some of the high points I've seen.

First, I've seen my husband build his relationship with our four sons.  Our sons have a unique bond with their Dad because he is always there for them.  He's available if they need help with their cars, advice on friendships, or just throwing a football around. 

Next, Ken's faith has strengthened tremendously.  He feels that he can help others in spite of and because of this disease.  He has spoken to large groups about having a positive, “I can do it” attitude - to his fellow martial arts members, church members, and my colleagues at Mary Kay, Inc.  I constantly receive comments about how wonderful my husband is and how connected he is with his faith and family.  He is truly an inspiration.  Finally, I've found that Ken is confident in his abilities even with this disease.  He continues to do challenging projects around the house - reupholster chairs, lay down hard wood floors and work on our cars.  He has even created a form in Martial Arts for people confined to a wheelchair! 

I am thankful that God has given us the strength and courage to get through this together.  When we went to our first Unity Walk, it was very overwhelming for me.  I couldn't believe all the people who were stricken with the disease and the support they received from the vendors, doctors and Unity Walk volunteers that day.  I'm constantly amazed at how people join together to help people in need.  My personal friends, family and close friends from Mary Kay have raised thousands of dollars each year.  I am forever grateful for their prayers and financial support.  I enjoy having my brothers and their families, and my friends walk with us each year.

We are all confident that we are close to a cure.  I believe that Ken will be a recipient of that cure and our sons will live long, healthy, happy lives in a world without Parkinson's!

Written by Kim Hermansen, Ken’s sister:

Over 10 years ago, my “little brother” Ken called and asked if I would join him and his family at the Parkinson's Unity Walk in New York’s Central Park.  My daughters, Katee and Andi, and I didn't hesitate to say yes!  We would do anything to help find a cure so that my brother, their Uncle, could be free of this disease.  It also gives us an opportunity to see our family that is unfortunately spread all over the country.  I have attended the Unity Walk every year since and my daughters have joined me most of those years.  Even the few times when they couldn’t get to NY, they raised money for the Walk and their hearts were always there with us!  My husband Rick started coming to the Unity Walk three years ago and hasn't missed one since.  He described his first Walk as “incredible and unforgettable” and “something that everyone needs to experience.”  He was emotional as we walked through the start line, seeing all the people living with Parkinson’s, and all of the volunteers cheering them, and us on!