GREENVILLE — About 60,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with Parkinson’s disease. Nearly 1 million live with the disease every day.
Greenville resident Becky Hansen is one of them. That’s one reason she wants people to be aware of the fact that April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month.
Parkinson’s is a degenerative neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system caused by the death of certain dopamine-making cells in the brain. Early symptoms include shaking, slowness of movement and other motion-related problems. Often, psychiatric problems such as depression, problems sleeping and dementia also accompany the disease.
“Many (Parkinson’s sufferers) are living right here in Montcalm County,” Hansen said. “As facilitator of Montcalm County Parkinson’s support group, I am inviting the people of Montcalm County to participate in Parkinson’s Awareness Month by having dinner at Mancino’s of Greenville on Monday, April 7, between 5 and 8 p.m.”
During this fundraiser, 35 percent of all Mancino’s in-house food and beverage purchases will be donated to support the Parkinson’s research going on at VanAndel Institute.
“Although promising research is being conducted, it takes time and money,” Hansen said. “Your help is needed.”
According to Hansen, the event is intended not only to raise funds, but awareness. Too often, she said, early stage Parkinson’s goes undetected because people do not know what “warning signs” to be on the alert for.
Early diagnosis can be key toward slowly the disease’s inexorable progress. Drug therapies can be effective in this regard, but they do eventually lose their efficacy. Changes in diet also can sometimes alleviate, temporarily, early stage symptoms.
Current animal research models have demonstrated promising new treatments including gene therapy, stem cell transplants and the implementation of neuroprotective agents.
Other groundbreaking treatments include electronic brain implants, such as the one currently minimizing
Hansen’s symptoms. The tiny device stimulates the brain in such a way as to allow her to live a normal life, though occasional adjustments are required.
For Jessica Johnson, Mancino’s general manager, as well as for her parents, Rich and Debbie Sellers, the upcoming fundraiser also has a personal component. Mancino’s, located at 218 S Lafayette St. in Greenville, is well-known for its Monday evening fundraisers, but this one resonates most with the family.
“This one just kind of hits home for us because my dad’s step-father, my grandfather, has Parkinson’s,” Johnson said. “This is our way to help raise awareness of Parkinson’s and help with research for my dad’s step-father.”
Johnson added that Monday evenings at the restaurant are typically very busy because of all the customers who come in regularly knowing that a portion of their meals’ cost will go toward some charity or other.
“It gets a little hectic,” Johnson said. “But my parents really like to do it. It’s actually a lot of fun.”
To add to that fun, Hansen brings in volunteers from her Parkinson’s support group to help with restaurant chores during the event.
For more information about the event, contact Hansen at (574) 286-4250.