Saturday, March 7, 2015

Parallels with 1492

Genoa 2011
Lisbon 2015
     It’s been 15 years since my wife and I walked the streets of Christopher Columbus’s hometown of Genoa and 1 year since I ran through Lisbon, his first stop after making the journey that began the written history of the Caribbean. 
     Now, on the eve of my departure to Run-the-Caribbean 4 Parkinson’s Disease,  while scrambling to finish the last minute preparations that don’t meet the threshold for something-I-can-still-do-after-I-leave-home, I am drawn to some parallels with the history of Columbus’s first voyage that I recently read.
     As Columbus struggled to find support for his endeavor, I've found it somewhat difficult to find and establish contact with others that are currently involved with Parkinson’s support and/or medical education throughout the Caribbean. However, just as Columbus finally found the backing he needed in King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, I have been fortunate to find a couple groups to partner with during my trek through the Caribbean.

      In October 2103, I attended the World Parkinson’s Congress in Montreal. As some of you know this meeting, which brings together People with Parkinson’s, clinicians and researchers, had a big impact on me. With the next WPC planned for Portland, Oregon in 2016, I am try to help promote the conference. During Run-the-World 4 Parkinson’s Disease last year, we were able to raise $6000 that will go toward travel grants for those with Parkinson's to attend the WPC in 2016. During Run-the-Caribbean you can still support this cause by donating through the following link: 444 Parkinson's Foundation.  However, this year my energy will be focused on my primary goal of raising awareness of the WPC rather than fund-raising.

     Thanks to Eli Pollard, Executive Director, and the rest of the staff at the World Parkinson’s Coalition, I will not be traveling alone this year. My constant travel partner with be Parky, the WPC mascot.  I anticipate that Parky and I will find many photo ops during our travels...whether it be a beach, a waterfall, a volcano or with some the many people we hope to meet along the way. 

      While Columbus largely failed in his pursuit to find gold, pearls and spices, I have found one treasure in the Caribbean already…the Barbados Parkinson's Awareness Walk/5K Run on Sunday, 7 March. The enthusiastic correspondence from Cherry Ward, the event organizer, Deanna and Prof Corbin have me very excited to be able to attend and meet those helping to raise awareness about Parkinson's from Barbados and hopefully, other areas of the Caribbean.
     For those with a particular interest in this event, you can click on the following link and check out their Facebook page: Barbados Awareness Walk/5K Run
     In closing, I have to admit that I feel like I am heading to the Caribbean with far less information about the status of support and care that those impact by Parkinson's than I thought I would have when I began planning this trip.  It may be that finding those important contacts is particularly challenging or it may be that they are still to established in many of the islands.  Either way I am looking forward to the adventure and enjoying my time as my alter ego - The 444 Parkinson's Traveler...although Columbus's title as "Admiral of the Ocean Sea" does sound more awesome.

Take care, Mark

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