It’s a word Dan Novak, Ph.D., Chair of the PDF People with Parkinson’s Advisory Council, used recently when describing the World Parkinson Congress (WPC).
Last night in Portland, OR, it proved true. It captured the feeling of walking into a room with 4,000 people (people living with Parkinson’s, care partners, researchers and health professionals) who all share one goal — a world without Parkinson’s. As part of this week’s WPC reports, see our summary of last night’s awe-inspiring Opening Ceremony.
A Warm Welcome and a World without Parkinson’s Disease
Can you imagine a world without Parkinson’s? The Opening Ceremony began with this question in song performed by the WPC Choir (see photo above). This global group of people living with PD has been rehearsing online (!) for months to prepare the song — quite a feat.
Soon after, the crowd was given a warm video welcome by both Mayor of Portland, Charles Hales, whose city has been preparing by getting trained in Parkinson’s (see story here) and by WPC Chair Serge Przedborski, M.D., Ph.D.
Motivating Words from Brian and May May
The inspiration didn’t stop there. Brian Grant, retired NBA player and person living with Parkinson’s spoke about the shock of his diagnosis — as well as his realization that with Parkinson’s came an entire community that wanted to support him.
“You guys are my team. It consists of patients, caregivers, scientists … as a team, we’re working toward a cure,” he said. Bravo Brian. We agree.
He was followed by May May Ali, daughter of the late Muhammad Ali, who spoke of her father’s determination and fight in the face of more than 30 years living with Parkinson’s. She said, “What I admired about my father is his determination not to let symptoms defeat his soul … refusing Parkinson’s to retreat him into darkness taking its toll.”
Inspiring Parkinson’s Stories from Around the Globe
Next up, we met two creative people living with Parkinson’s who shared their stories globally as part of the WPC Video Competition.
Lori Campbell of the US (pictured at left with Brian Grant) won the top prize for, VICTORY, which “‘through creative use of multi-media, describes the initial reaction of having Parkinson’s, and the tools my family and I have learned to embrace to live optimistically.”
Rafi Eldor, of Israel, won the People’s Choice Award for Dancing Through Life. The university professor shared his journey and with an unexpected therapeutic and joyful activity: dance.
Teaming up with the PF Team
Finally the WPC exhibit hall opened and delegates visited with Parkinson’s organizations from all over the world. This included our booth, hosted by staff and patient leaders of both PDF and NPF which debuted as the new Parkinson’s Foundation! We offered educational materials and invited people to vote in the Community Choice Research Awards.
More on that later. Now that WPC has officially kicked off look for news tomorrow about the latest in science and care. Are you at WPC? Share your experiences below.