By Sue Wambolt, Contributing writer
Southborough/Northborough – According to the American Parkinson's Disease Association (APDA), Parkinson's disease affects more than 1.5 million people in the United States. The disease is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system resulting in a variety of symptoms, including muscle rigidity, tremors, and changes in speech and gait.
Southborough resident Kris Stapleton has seen the effects of Parkinson's first-hand. Her mother, Sandy Howard, was diagnosed 22 years ago when she was just 47 years old. At the time, Stapleton's parents searched for answers.
“My mother and father got involved with anyone and everyone they could find who knew anything about Parkinson's disease,” Stapleton said. “My mother became president of the local support group and [met] with the folks at Boston University Medical Center and the APDA Information and Referral Center. It was this meeting that would forever change my life and would connect me to the world of Parkinson's disease, those living with it, those helping to make living life a little easier with it, and those trying to cure it.”
Stapleton has been involved with the APDA since 2002, as a member-at-large of the MA chapter board and then elected as vice president last year. In that role as vice president, she supports the national mission to “Ease the Burden and Find the Cure” through education, program development, support group assistance, fundraising and community involvement.
Stapleton has worked to educate the general public about Parkinson's disease. Together with her father, Kirby, she spearheaded the yearly “Putt for Parkinson's” celebrity golf tournament. The event, which ran from 1995 to 2008 raised more than $350,000.
“With the start of the golf tournament, we all [the family] felt like we were doing something to make a difference. It is very empowering to feel that you are helping others, even if you don’t see the end results every day,” Stapleton said.
Working alongside Stapleton is Northborough resident and nurse Denyse Turpin, RN, MPH. Turpin began her involvement with the Parkinson's community in 1982 as a staff nurse on an inpatient Parkinson's nursing unit at University Hospital, the current Boston Medical Center. She became an APDA board member in 2002 and began attending Parkinson's disease education programs and health fairs to provide information about the disease, the Information and Referral center, and the MA chapter.
Both Stapleton and Turpin will be participating in the 27th Annual Massachusetts Chapter Parkinson's Walkathon Sunday, June 9. The event will be held at the Reebok International Headquarters” track in Canton, with a start time of 12 p.m. One hundred percent of the proceeds go toward vital Parkinson's disease research approved by the APDA Scientific Advisory Board and patient programs.
For further information about the walkathon, contact Vanessa Blais at the APDA Information and Referral Center at Boston University Medical Campus: (800) 651-8466 or [email protected]. Donations can be mailed to the APDA Massachusetts Chapter, 72 East Concord St., C3 ?Boston, MA 02118 (Checks made payable to the APDA MA Chapter) or processed online. Please visit the MA Chapter website at www.apdama.org and the walkathon event page at apdaparkinson.donordrive.com/event/mawalk2013.
For information about APDA, visit http://www.apdaparkinson.org/.