I met my wife in 1986, when we were both studying at Oregon State University and we have been together ever since. She grew up in Kuching, Malaysia and at the time we met I would not have been able to locate Malaysia on a map. Traveling to Malaysia for our wedding ceremony was my first international journey and therefore, I credit her for helping me discover the joys of travel.
When I arrived in Kuala Lumpur, it was my brother-in-law, Khalzani, that was there to meet me in the airport. Being a high-ranking executive in charge of coordinating the movement of ships all over the world, he was the perfect person to direct the shuttling of me all over the city. For the few weeks prior to my arrival he had been working with the Malaysian Parkinson Disease Association (MPDA) to coordinate an event that included a meeting with those affected by Parkinson’s and a run with students from the International Medical University.
The MPDA has been in existence for 20 years and just recently purchased their current facility which provides a home-like environment for those with Parkinson’s and their families. MPDA is largely dependent on the enthusiasm and dedication of Sara Lew for its success. Sara was motivated to work with those with Parkinson’s after her late-father developed the disorder and she has now been with MPDA for 19 of their 20 years.
I have been extremely happy to see the participation of family members at each the events that we have had for “Run-the-World”. Family members are not only there to assist their parents, spouses or children with Parkinson’s, but often were there despite the fact that the person with Parkinson’s could attend or is deceased. In addition, many people have written to me to let me know they are interested in my project, because they have a family member with Parkinson’s that connects them to the cause. When I have had the opportunity to speak to groups, such MPDA, the topic of family comes up in a number of different contexts including: disclosing the diagnosis, providing support and involving the family members in the strategy to raise Parkinson’s Awareness. My time meeting with MPDA members was a great experience and I wish them all the best for the future.
I was fortunate to have a large group of students from the International Medical University join me for my run in Malaysia. It helpful to have the support running, especially near the end when a thunderstorm unleashed a downpour so heavy that even locals were the impressed with the amount of rainfall. Despite the monsoon - I was able to complete my 4 miles. It was also nice to share my message of Parkinson’s Awareness with a group of young, future medical professionals.
After we completed the run I was able to briefly meet another of my wife's childhood friends and her family. Then had a short time to spend with my wife's sister's family. It has been approximately 5 years since I had seen them and children had grown so much. That night, athough I only slept 40 minutes before leaving for the airport at 1:30 AM - it was great to be in the home of family.