Mary Moody doesn’t consider herself a typical Parkinson’s patient.
Strolling with her brothers around the Wilson Family Y’s walking track with hundreds of others during Saturday’s Parkinson’s Walk and stooping to hug two of her four grandchildren, she appeared quite able-bodied.
“I don’t have the usual symptoms,” she said. “I don’t shake because the medicine takes care of that.”
Parkinson’s Disease is degenerative and primarily affects movement. Symptoms start small, perhaps with a tremor in one hand, and progress until patients are unable to walk or perform small motor functions.
“It’s a disease that isn’t well known or understood. It’s actually a lot more common than people think,” said Nathan Searle, a volunteer with the CSRA Parkinson’s Support Group and one of the walk’s organizers. He is a third-year physical therapy student at Georgia Health Sciences University who has become passionate about helping Parkinson’s Disease patients.
“For most people it progresses so slowly that a lot of people don’t get diagnosed with it until they’ve had it for years. They just have a little shake and (think) ‘Oh, I’m just old,’ ” Searle said.
Moody was diagnosed in 1998 and said the disease has slowed her down considerably, but there are things she can still do. She can drive short distances and she volunteers with the CSRA Parkinson’s Support Group, which she said has been the biggest help to her, along with her family.
She attended her first meeting in October 1998 and said she just cried.
“I saw some things I didn’t want to believe,” she said. “I told myself I had to come back. I did come back and I started meeting folks and getting involved.”
She now serves on the Parkinson’s Walk committee and said she volunteers her time and talent to the organization whenever she can.
She said she wishes she could do more, but feels fortunate to be as well as she is.
“You think you have the stamina and you think you have the words, but it just doesn’t come all together like it used to,” she said.
Money raised will support Parkinson’s research both nationally and locally.