With the holiday season approaching, Parkinson’s Women Support, a group of local women who have Parkinson’s Disease, will be shopping at a Holiday Bazaar on Nov. 19 to raise money for the Parkinson’s Institute (PI), which is America’s only independent non-profit organization, providing basic and clinical research and a comprehensive movement disorder patient clinic.
Parkinson’s Women Support originated in 2008, when a group of newly-diagnosed, young-onset female patients with Parkinson’s Disease were introduced to each other by Dr. Melanie Brandabur, the Clinical Director at the Parkinson’s Institute. Dr. Brandabur suggested that with their positive desire to help and inspire others they might collectively benefit from each other’s company and find a way to reach out to others.
“The generosity of the organizations and individuals who have donated gifts to the Holiday Bazaar has been amazing,” said Darcy Blake (pictured right), one of the founders of the support group and head of communications at Menlo College. “We received a set of walking poles from Urban Pole in Canada, hats from the San Francisco Hat Co., jewelry from Bravelets.com, and a gourmet dinner for eight cooked by Dr. Brandabur — and much more!
“One of our members donated 13 hand-crocheted scarves. Every little bit helps. We hope others realize that with a small contribution on their part, we can accomplish great things to help find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease.”
For over five years, the women’s group has met for lunch once a month in Palo Alto, keeping faith in one another with encouragement from their Dr. Brandabur. The mission of the group is to offer moral support, encouragement and camaraderie for women who are either Parkinson’s Disease patients or caregivers. Women travel from as far north as Santa Rosa, as far east as Nevada, and as far south as Monterey to attend the luncheons.
“I was diagnosed in July 2008, and the original group members and I were introduced to each other in December of the same year,” said Darcy. “The group and my illness have aged together. I had DBS surgery (Deep Brain Stimulation) three months ago, and I was able to talk about that experience on the PWS blog and Facebook page.
“Aside from the group cameraderie, which has been comforting, I’ve watched this group grow and flourish, so I’ve been able to replace what might have been the despondency of having a chronic disease with the fulfillment of building a support group for it. It might sound crazy, but in some ways, Parkinson’s Disease has been a blessing for me.”
While the event is sold out, cash donations to PI can be made via an online form.
Photos courtesy of Darcy Blake