The birth of Parky and why he is here
Parky is my name. It’s short for Parkinson, as in the disease. You see, I was conceived in the mind of Bob, a Canadian lawyer who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2006, at the age of 53. Despite having PD, he was committed to seeing and living life as an adventure. And adventures are best when they are shared. So, Bob decided that wherever he went he would take a friend, me. He arranged to have a prototype made; a flat cut out of a cute raccoon with a mischievous grin. Why a raccoon?. Well, raccoons are sort of Canadian; playful, adaptable, family-oriented and inventive. As well, they were good representatives of Parkinson’s, with the distinctive mask, a feisty spirit and nocturnal habits. Besides, Bob had grown up with the nickname, “Coon-skin”, because of his last name: Kuhn. A raccoon seemed perfect.
In 2012, I went on the biggest adventure of all with Bob. We traveled around the world together. Really! 17 countries in 2 1/2 months. Bob did it because he was an Ambassador of World Parkinson Congress 2013 and he wanted to meet and share with other people around the world who had Parkinson’s. I went along for fun and the photo ops. From Manchu Picchu, high in the Andes, to Masi Mara, in the plains of Kenya; from the steamy streets of Mumbai to the turquoise waters of Fiji; we did it all. And we made a lot of friends along the way, from neurologists to nurses, researchers to resource people, and, of course, young people and older folks who were struggling with Parkinson’s..
Many of the new friends we met on our grand global adventure we invited to come to WPC 2013 in Montréal. It was a great reunion where we learned together about new treatment ideas, exercise therapy, technological advances and, most of all, we shared our experiences in dealing with our journey with PD. Journeys are best when they are shared you know. Oh, and something magical happened in Montréal. I became a cuddly, take-home, easy to squeeze into a suitcase, real life (almost) plush toy. Now, kids of all ages love to hug me. And best of all, proceeds from selling me go to provide travel scholarships for people who could not otherwise afford to attend the WPC.
I am very excited to meet many of my friends at WPC 2016 in Portland, Oregon USA. Who wouldn’t be? Life, no matter how challenging, is better when shared with friends, you know. Especially the huggable type!
To my future friends,