CHAMPs > Parkinson's CHAMP

September 2013 - Mighty Ducks

It was the early part of 2002, at the age of 41, that I started to notice subtle symptoms of Parkinson’s disease - my left arm did not swing, I had trouble typing on a computer, my wife commented that I squeezed her hand tight when we were out walking, and I was getting tired more quickly than usual.

At that time, my wife, Maryann (my high school sweetheart and a cancer survivor) and I were busy raising our three boys. Our boys were then 13, 11, and 5 and our 11 year old has Down syndrome.  I had a family to take care, insurance to provide, college to save for – it’s not possible that this could be happening.

Now to tell our family…. during a game of basketball in the backyard, I explained to my oldest son that I had Parkinson’s disease. He asked me if I was going to die, I assured him not, and then he said he would pray for me the next day in school.  We continued our game of basketball. Life goes on.

In 2004, I found navigating the trains and subways of NYC was getting to be overwhelming, so our family moved to Maryland to be closer to work and extended family members. Two years later, I had deep brain stimulation surgery.  Fortunately, this surgery significantly decreased my tremors. In 2010, I went on disability so I could better manage my increased symptoms, therapy, and doctor appointments.

My children, wife and family have seen me through falls, surgeries, good days, bad days, and have supported me throughout.  I am very fortunate to have each of them in my life. I am blessed with strong faith and a great life. Yes, it is difficult having Parkinson’s but I am blessed in so many other ways.

Seven years ago, my niece, Michelle and my sister-in-law, Christine, started walking in the Parkinson’s Unity Walk in New York City in my honor. Thus, the Mighty Ducks Team was created. My wife, our sons and I joined the Mighty Ducks at the Walk three years ago. This past April, we had over 50 walkers on our team – from New York, Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey & Boston.

The Unity Walk is an unbelievable weekend. It reminds me how I am loved and supported. It gives me the opportunity to visit the informational booths, speak to healthcare professionals, and discuss the latest advances. It is very emotional to know that our entire team is there to support and honor me.

I thank Michelle, Christine, my sisters-in-law, Maureen and Joan, and ALL the walkers and donors who support the Mighty Ducks in my honor.  

I had problems with my knee as a result of PD and in the past, I’ve used a wheelchair throughout the Walk route. I am happy to report that I had a successful total knee replacement this past May. I look forward to using the wheelchair less than I did last year and actually walking part of the 2014 Parkinson’s Unity Walk. Look for the Mighty Ducks as we cross the Finish line!

Mike Powderly
Mighty Ducks, Team Member