CHAMPs > Parkinson's CHAMP

Debbie Meggs, Team Nashville


Nineteen years ago, one of my best friends from childhood was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD). Gayle Maloney is one of the strongest, most determined, wonderful people that I know. I remember Gayle telling me and another friend at one of our high school reunions that she had PD. Stunned, unaware of what that meant, she began her journey with Early Onset PD. For years she has faced this disease with courage and strength. She began to participate in the Parkinson’s Unity Walk (PUW) in NYC, fundraising, sending emails to everyone she knew, and raising thousands of dollars. Each year, our friend Julie and I would talk about going to join her and show our support in person, rather than just donating but we couldn't make it happen. In 2010 Gayle underwent Deep Brain Stimulation, and almost without skipping a beat, started fundraising again and preparing for the next PUW. Then, in 2015, Julie and I finally joined her! What a wonderful experience it was to witness all those people coming together to raise awareness and funds to find a cure for PD. We laughed a lot, shared stories, went to a show, ate ice cream, and enjoyed our time at the Walk. As always, we kept in touch, and began to plan our next year supporting PD research in NYC.

The summer of 2016 was a difficult one for my family and extended family as we lost a dear friend in September.  And in the midst of it all, I knew I wasn't feeling "right. “After going to my doctor twice with no answers, I began to explain how I was feeling to my gynecologist. She listened with an open heart and sent me to a neurologist in November. At first, I was sure I was going crazy, that nothing was really wrong. Until he had me walk down the hall. As I walked back towards the doctor, I thought to myself "I just rocked that walking thing" only to have my world turned upside down when he looked at me and noted that my left arm wasn't moving as I walked. He went on to explain that the cease of arm movement was a sign of Parkinson's disease. Stunned, I stood there unsure of what he was saying next. Who would have ever imagined the year I went to support my dear friend Gayle at the Walk, I would be diagnosed myself?

Needless to say, that winter I kicked it in gear to raise money for the Walk with my dear friend Gayle and Team Nashville! My family and friends have been such a blessing as I began this new chapter of life. They've joined me in fundraising efforts, accompanied us to walk in NYC, walked in our hometown when they couldn't make the trip, and provided support and love all along the way. I thank God for His many blessings in my life, my supportive husband, children, family, extended family and friends. I am so grateful to have experienced the Unity Walk in support of Gayle in 2016, and now as a PD patient myself, I am incredibly grateful for the work being done through this community and event to find a cure and support those experiencing all that comes along with a Parkinson's diagnosis.

Debbie Meggs
Team Member, Team Nashville