by Lauren Simmons
Forgive me for the lengthy post; when looking back at this year, I guess I have a lot to say.
When 2020 started, I was very excited about the things going on in the Parkinson’s community in Orange County. There were multiple support groups meeting every week and the number of fitness classes was growing from one end of the county to the other. Educational events and outings were filling our calendars. Our small group at PD Buzz was busy trying to reach people with PD and keep them connected to all that was happening.
And then came COVID and put a screeching halt to almost everything...at least for a little while. It didn’t take long for the leaders in the PD community worldwide to jump into action. Knowing how detrimental isolation and a sedimentary lifestyle can be for those with Parkinson’s, these professionals quickly adapted and started holding groups and classes online. We all learned a new meaning to the word “zoom.” Our living rooms and garages quickly became gyms and we welcomed support groups, specialists and doctors into our homes via the internet.
There are some silver linings to this pandemic. Telemedicine has been brought to the forefront and hopefully will continue long after the pandemic is over. Many of us, out of necessity, have overcome technical challenges and figured out how to stay in touch online. Hopefully many of us used our time at home wisely and took the opportunity to work on longstanding projects or to learn a new hobby or skill.
Being stuck at home has given me the time to expand my personal reach into the Parkinson’s community. I have used my time to learn more about web design and figure out better ways to connect people with PD to resources they need to live well. We have had some great accomplishments this past year. PD Buzz has grown and is now offering the same service to people with Parkinson’s in the greater Springfield, Illinois area. In April, we hosted a webinar with Dr. Ray Dorsey, co-author of the book, Ending Parkinson’s Disease. This past week, we partnered with Claire McLean at Rogue PT & Wellness for our first ever Jump Start seminar for those newly diagnosed. We have wanted a program like this in Orange County for years, and pandemic or not, we made it happen. Our recent partnership with the Parkinson’s Wellness Fund will enable us to reach even further. Together, we can connect more people with resources and help them live well today
Looking Forward to 2021
As I write this, the news is breaking about people throughout the country getting vaccinated. It will still take some time for the vaccines to get to everyone but I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I pray that we will be singing “Happy days are here again” by the spring or summer. Until then, we need to maintain our safety protocols and wait a bit longer.
We still may have many months at home before things return to our new normal. I encourage you to keep moving. Exercise is medicine. You wouldn’t skip taking your medicine so please don’t neglect your training. If you haven’t been part of a group online yet, give it a try. On PDBuzz.com you can find online exercise classes, support groups, dancing classes, singing groups and more. I urge each of you to step outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself with something new.
Looking at the future of the Parkinson’s community is difficult to do without considering the past. It has been over 200 years, and we still have no cure. Although new treatments and medications are hitting the market, Parkinson’s continues to grow in the population. It is the fastest growing neurological disease. Something needs to change and change does not happen without action. On that note, I am asking each and every one of you to join the PD Avengers. There is power in numbers and by joining together, we can demand change in the Parkinson’s world. It is the goal of PD Avengers to unite 50 million voices to end Parkinson's. If you have PD, love someone with PD, care for someone with PD, are related to someone with PD, or know someone with PD, please join. It is not a charity. They will not ask for money. We need to stand together to build a sense of urgency to end Parkinson's.
“The PD Avengers are a global alliance of people with Parkinson’s, their partners and friends, standing together to demand change on how the disease is seen and treated…Our mandate is to use our combined effort, influence and skills to prove Parkinson’s matters and to build a sense of real urgency to end the disease.”