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Montana Don's Team


I first attended the Parkinson’s Unity Walk in 2006 to walk with my daughter whose friend's mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). In subsequent years, I also walked for my brother, Don Rakow who was living with PD. The following year, I created Montana Don’s Team in honor of my brother, Don who lives in Montana. Our team’s success is due, in large part, to the support of Don’s many friends who live in the northern Westchester area and are graduates of Fox Lane High School, class of 1969.

My brother first noticed his Parkinson’s symptoms when he and his son climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro together in February, 2006 and he noticed that he had a tremor in his right hand. Diagnosing his PD was a process – after putting off seeing a doctor for a year, he scheduled appointments at the VA Hospital in Montana and then in Portland. Sometime after his diagnosis, he began researching Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) and the procedure was performed in 2015, the same year I received my diagnosis. DBS has been a mixed bag for him. While he’s experienced some positive results, his speech has suffered and that has been frustrating for him.

Parkinson’s disease was not new to our family. Our mother was diagnosed with “Parkinson’s-like symptoms” in her late 80s even though some doctors disputed that she had Parkinson’s at all. After participating in the Unity Walk for several years, I was diagnosed with “Parkinson’s like symptoms” myself in 2015 at the age of 69. This was followed by an official diagnosis of PD.

Since my first Walk, I have found the event to be exciting and very informative. For years, I returned because I felt that helping to raise funds for research that would take us closer to a cure was a way of helping my brother. When I was diagnosed, I found it difficult to believe that it was happening to me as well. Now I walk for both of us as we continue to raise funds for research.

Marylin Leslie
Team Captain, Montana Don’s Team