A forum including speakers, medical leaders, specialists and support groups for people suffering from Parkinson’s disease (PD) will take place in Sonora on Jan. 25.
Ron Hamilton, a Sonora local, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s two years ago. Instead of sitting back and letting the disease take control of him, he took the opportunity to become an advocate for individuals suffering from the disease.
Along with his wife Krishna, Hamilton started a foundation called Peaceful Journey: The Ronald M. Hamilton Parkinson’s Foundation.
“We could be victims of the disease, or we could be proactive,” Hamilton said. “When people are diagnosed, they really lose their ability to communicate well and move well. I still have that ability, so if I can be an advocate to other Parkinson’s patients, that’s what I’ve been called by God to do (and) that’s what I’m going to do.”
Some of the altruistic activities Hamilton and his wife support with funding brought in by the foundation are provided to PD sufferers after an application process is completed, including assistance with items such as visiting a doctor’s office out of town, gas to get to the appointment, a hotel room in the city of the appointment, or assistance with repairing an electric chair that doesn’t work properly.
“My wife worked very hard to bring in speakers and vendors who are going to be there that day,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton was met with opposition when he tried to seek out a physical therapist. Many of those he spoke with said they couldn’t help him. He was finally able to find one who specialized in PD. One of the vendors at the event will be a physical therapist who specializes in the disease.
A speaker from University of California, San Francisco’s Parkinson’s Mobility Center, as well as Parkinson’s Foundation will be at the forum, in addition to a Parkinson’s speech therapist. Other providers will include a dentist, a physical therapist and a speech therapist specializing in Parkinson’s. Information will be provided for both Parkinson’s patients as well as their providers.
Along with the San Andreas support group called Movers and Shakers, the Tuolumne County Parkinson’s support group will be there. Members will have information on when and where they meet, and how attendees can be a part of it.
“Boxing is a full-body workout, (which) tests balance, agility and hand-eye coordination, all of which can be affected by Parkinson’s. It also can build muscle strength, potentially help speech (some say grunting or yelling while punching aids with vocal projection) and even offer an outlet for frustration toward symptoms or disease,” according to the website for the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
The new fitness-focused strategy of handling PD has received widespread media attention, and is called Rock Steady Boxing, which was first discovered and used by Scott C. Newman, a former prosecutor. Newman was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and discovered that boxing helped him in ways traditional therapies couldn’t.
Now, Newman has a nonprofit organization based on the fitness therapy dedicated to the research and practice of using boxing as a therapeutic exercise method to combat the effects of PD.
Jared Mossner, the owner of Well Box Fitness in Sonora, heard a radio interview with Hamilton speaking about Rock Steady Boxing and was inspired to begin a boxing class to help patients with PD overcome the disease and improve symptoms. Mossner’s class is called Counter Punch. He will also have a booth at the forum.
One of the topics of discussion will be a program Hamilton is starting called Parkinson’s Pals, which is “an opportunity for people to serve as a pal for people with Parkinson’s,” which, as Hamilton described, will include some of the following activities: visiting PD patients, relieving their care providers or taking them to a movie. He hopes to start this program to help ease the isolation and frustration many PD sufferers may experience.
The forum is free, and will include an enchilada lunch. It will take place at Sierra Bible Church, 15171 Tuolumne Road, Sonora. Attendees are asked to to RSVP to 588-3848 or email email@example.com.