by Lauren Simmons
Four years ago, I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. While reeling from my diagnosis and dealing with my symptoms, my family and I were left with the task of finding resources in my area to help me. I am fortunate that there were many classes, groups and specialists near my home but finding them was not so easy. It took hours of online research and phone calls. I needed someone else with Parkinson's to talk to and guide me and until I found that person, my Parkinson's journey was a maze of confusion. Fast forward a couple of years, and I was hearing from people frequently that they were having the same issue. The problem was not a lack of help but finding the help and finding it easily and quickly after diagnosis. This problem led to the founding of a new website, PDBuzz.com, which was a "one stop shop" for all things Parkinson's in my hometown, Orange County, California. It is a database of Parkinson's fitness classes, programs, services, support groups, specialists and events and we have started a peer program to give the person with PD or their care partner someone to talk to. With the support of the Parkinson's Wellness Fund and some dedicated friends, PDBuzz.com was launched in December of 2018. It is run by a group of people with Parkinson's helping people with Parkinson's.
A couple of months ago, I mentioned PD Buzz in a Zoom meeting full of women with Parkinson's. Shortly after the meeting, I was contacted by a couple of superhero PD Advocates, Candace Mueller and Kenna Diaz, who checked out PD Buzz and wanted the same thing for their town, Springfield, Illinois. Others have made the same request in the past and I always dismissed the idea because keeping the site updated for just Orange County was proving to be a daunting task and I am not a trained web person. I am learning as I go because I believe strongly that people with PD need to find resources as soon as possible after their diagnosis and I want that to be easier than it has been in the past. I want it to be easier than it was for me. Maybe it was the timing of this request from the ladies in Springfield that made me consider saying yes this time. I know it had something to do with a strong urging from Russell Meyerowitz at the Parkinson's Wellness Fund. When I told him about the requests to expand and said that I wasn't a web person and I didn't know how to do this, he said, "But you already are doing it and if you can help just one more person with Parkinson's tomorrow, then you are successful." He got me right there.
Things fell into place after that. A couple of us from PD Buzz in Orange County met virtually with the ladies in Springfield and got the process started. They were able to collect the information on their local Parkinson's resources and pass it along to a family member who works in web development and as they say, the rest is history. Recently, we added PD Buzz Springfield to our website. It is exciting to think that we are helping more people with Parkinson's and who knows, maybe we will be growing more in the future. It may be a slow process but as my friend Russell said, you just have to help one more person with Parkinson's tomorrow. I think we can do that.