Michael WilliamsOrlando SentinelApril 1, 2017
|Mary Tabler, right, pushes an empty wheelchair. She needed the wheelchair to participate in the walk, but ended up starting the walk on her feet.|
Mary Tabler’s friends describe her as an Energizer bunny — she never stops moving.
However, about four years ago, Tabler, 68, noticed something wasn’t quite right. Her handwriting had started to change. She noticed pain in her shoulders and hips.
After having a conversation with a friend whose husband had been experiencing signs of Parkinson’s disease, Tabler realized she exhibited nearly all of the same symptoms. A visit to a neurologist confirmed her fears. Tabler was diagnosed with Parkinson’s two years ago.
“It kind of comes on gradually,” Tabler said. “You don’t realize it until it’s there and you have a bunch of crazy things going on to your body."
Saturday morning, Tabler, along with more than 500 people with Parkinson’s and their caretakers and sponsors, walked around the lake at Cranes Roost Park in Altamonte Springs for the 2017 Walk for Parkinson, an annual event hosted by the Parkinson Association of Central Florida.
To date, Tabler, with a little help from her friends, has raised nearly $3,000 for the association, the largest individual fundraiser this year.
The association as a whole has raised $70,000 on its way to its $100,000 goal, with proceeds benefiting local community programs aiming to help provide the best care for those with Parkinson’s disease. The money raised helps fund resources for people with Parkinson’s including medication, caregiver help, and awareness efforts.
By hosting the walk, the organization helps people with Parkinson’s accomplish one of the most important tasks after a diagnosis—constant movement.
|Mary Tabler sits in a wheelchair during a color guard presentation during the opening ceremony. She needed a wheelchair to participate in the walk, but ended up starting the walk on her feet.|
Tabler, who uses a wheelchair, insisted on standing up for the National Anthem and walking the beginning of the event.
“You have to keep moving, that’s the idea behind it. If you don’t move, you lose the ability and it’s gone forever,” Tabler said.
The association also hopes to spread awareness of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, which include tremors, small handwriting, a soft or low voice, and stooping over. In many cases, people with Parkinson’s also develop dementia. There is no cure, but medication can help relieve symptoms of the disease.
Many people with the disease go years without realizing their symptoms are those of Parkinson’s, according to Emily Rinehart, development coordinator for the Parkinson Association of Central Florida.
Rinehart, 24, first became involved with the association a year ago in memory of her grandfather, who suffered from Parkinson’s for more than 30 years before his death in 2010.
“We’re just trying to celebrate movement as a symbol of hope for progress and finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease,” Rinehart said.