HEALTH

People with Parkinson’s on the Move

May 4, 2024, 9:35 PM | Updated: May 9, 2024, 3:59 pm

SALT LAKE CITY Most people probably don’t think twice about taking a stroll around the park.

But not Dale George. He’s one of the 500,000 Americans diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He’s also one of the hundreds of people who made their way around Liberty Park for the Parkinson’s Foundation Moving Day on Saturday.

George was honored at Saturday morning’s fundraiser for establishing the Davis County Parkinson’s Support Group.

Thirteen years ago, the day his early retirement from his civil service job at Hill Air Force Base was approved, he was diagnosed with PD, as it’s called.

“I didn’t know what Parkinson’s was at that time, I thought it just made old people shake,” he said.

“Shaking is just like the top of the iceberg. There’s so much underneath the water, you don’t see,” he said.

Symptons of Parkinson’s disease

Symptoms can include cramps, loss of fine motor skills, depression, anxiety, cognitive losses and more.

According to information published by the National Institute of Health, half-million Americans are diagnosed with the disease, but the Parkinson’s Foundation, citing a 2018 study, says the number is actually twice that.

Moving Day organizer Randi Ruff said she’s lost expression in part of her face.

“People look at me and they think I’m mad,” she said. “I always tell people that I’m not mad.”

George, since being diagnosed, wrote two science fiction novels with a protagonist with Parkinson’s who tries to travel into the future to bring back a cure for the disease.

“I’ve never seen a story with a man with Parkinson’s disease where he’s the hero, I want to have one that was a hero,” he said. “And I’m just to show that having the disease does not mean you’re just going to shrivel up and die.”

One of the best treatments for PD is exercise, so the event was called “Moving Day.” Participants danced and boxed before scootering, walking or running around the park.

George regularly attends a Rock Steady boxing class, coached by his wife, Cindy.

“What do you do?” she said.

“We fight, fight, fight!” the class responds.

“Because we’re fighting in the gym, we’re fighting to keep our balance, we’re fighting to strengthen our core,” she said.

“Maybe that monster I’ve been fighting, I mean, I can’t beat him,” Dale George said. “So maybe we’ll try to be friends with him. That’s how I tried to imagine it in my mind (while in class), you know, keeping him at bay.”

“I’ve seen so many people over the years, how Parkinson’s just hits them really hard, and fast. I’m just fortunate enough to have had it 13 years and but I’m still going strong, I’m still fighting the fight and going out there and doing it,” he said.

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People with Parkinson’s on the Move