It might not be obvious to most, but Gary and Deanna Arrington know firsthand what it’s like to live with Parkinson’s disease.
Deanna Arrington, who taught at Summit Elementary School and Cannonsburg Elementary School, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2002.
So was her friend and fellow teacher, Sheila Turner.
“They both taught at Summit, were diagnosed at about the same, both had to retire because of Parkinson’s,” Arrington said.
The three friends now sit on the board of directors of the Coalition for the Cure of Parkinson’s Disease, an organization Arrington started and is board president of at the urging of his wife. Other board members are Gretchen VanHoose, Stacy Keelin, Susan Fleming and Tracy McGuire.
CCPD was incorporated and received nonprofit status in January, but Arrington said initial plans began in the spring of last year.
The group raised $250 on a recent Monday night when Texas Roadhouse donated 10 percent of its sales to those presenting a flier. The next endeavor will be an awareness event scheduled for May 18 at the Kyova Mall, which will include a fundraising walk, inflatables and reading circles for children, a silent auction, a gospel sing and a community chapel.
“We want to address the spiritual side as well as the fundraising side,” he said of the chapel.
Registration for the walk will be at 9 a.m. and the walk will begin at 10.
King’s Daughters Medical Center and Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital will do medical screenings and provide health information.
“The mall also gave us a permanent spot in front of the library branch,” Arrington said. “We will have a 4-foot-by-7 1⁄2-foot tree and individuals can have a name engraved on a plaque in honor or in memory of anyone who has had Parkinson’s disease. It’s a constant reminder that we need to support and be in constant prayer.”
Arrington pointed out research is promising for Parkinson’s, even regionally.
“Any funds generated go to research and, believe it or not, there’s really good research at UK,” he said. “We know we want to help them and, of course, we’ve looked at the National Parkinson’s Foundation and others, but some of the research money would be local.”
He said eventually, CCPD plans to offer local support groups for those with Parkinson’s.
“As we gain names and make acquaintances, we will, and at this event, we hope to find people and network toward having a support group,” he said.
LEE WARD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2661.