CHAMPs > Parkinson's CHAMP

December 2016 - APDA Shaker's Anonymous


I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in January, 2014 at the age of 44.  My initial symptom was slow movement in my left arm. My Primary Care Physician referred me to a local neurologist who played with my arm for about thirty seconds and then proclaimed, “You have Parkinson’s disease!”  My initial reaction was “Like hell I have Parkinson’s disease,” at which time he gave me a referral to see a Movement Disorder Specialist at Columbia University.  As I am a graduate of Columbia College, I told myself that I could count on my alma mater to disprove this “local quack” and let me go on with my life.  Well, I have gone on with my life, but the DAT Scan performed on my brain at Columbia showed a significant amount of loss of dopamine production in my head. Thus, the “local quack” was correct and I must say that I can identify people that are living with PD within 30 seconds myself ever since, with reasonable accuracy.

So, life has been a challenge since my diagnosis.  My kids have gone off and are getting all grown up on me, with my son starting Bard College this past August for his freshman year and my daughter a senior in high school, all set to attend Villanova University next fall. I am very proud of the two of them, and at the same time acknowledge that this damn disease has shoved a bit of a wedge into our relationships.  The fact that my speech has become so poor doesn’t help either.  I have very recently been placed on disability after 18 1/2 years at the same company, so in essence, I am retired at age 47 thanks to PD (and it is not all that It is cracked up to be).

I was fortunate enough to have found APDA Shaker’s Anonymous, a support group in New Canaan, CT, mostly composed of early onset PD patients. The name grabbed my attention and I have been attending the meetings since early fall 2015. It was at one of our meetings that I learned about the Unity Walk in Central Park and attended this past April.  I was asked to do some fundraising by our team leader, Lynn, so I signed up for the Walk and began to solicit donations online at www.unitywalk.org. In a matter of minutes, I had emails ready to send out to my entire contact list of personal and business associates.

I believe I started out with what I thought was an aggressive target of $5,000.  I blew through that by Day 2.  As the days went by, more and more donations kept coming in.  It was when I finally posted the message to Facebook that I felt as though I was updating my target for donations on a daily basis.  I was blown away by the fact that there were names of donors that I had no contact with in years. Social media is the way to go, for me at least, when it comes to seeking donations. 

I am looking forward to the 2017 Unity Walk in Central Park, NYC and trying to top my 2016 fundraising total of $13,690.  It is amazing how friends step up when one of their own is stricken with a disease. I hope and pray that they step up again this year, as I believe the scientific community is very close to finding a cure and the fact that every penny I raise through the Unity Walk is used for fighting PD, gives me great clarity in soliciting funds through this Walk!!

Jim Daine
Team Member, APDA Shaker’s Anonymous