Auburn Gresham Woman Spearheads Efforts to Honor Patriarch Living with Parkinson’s Disease

The Coleman family knew very little about Parkinson’s disease (PD) when their patriarch, Tony, was diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disorder in 2016. Tony had been fatigued and his movements had slowed. At age 56, he suspected his health was compromised, but never imagined the changes were due to Parkinson’s. Throughout the years, Tony’s energy levels continued to decrease and he began experiencing tremors, but medication and lifestyle changes helped him maintain a good quality of life.

In early 2021, Tony’s physician recognized he might benefit from Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). He qualified for the surgery, which was completed in June of 2021. As he continues through the adjustment phase, Tony’s health is improving and his vibrant personality has returned.

DBS is a neurosurgical procedure that uses implanted electrodes and electrical stimulation to treat movement disorders and other neurological conditions. Doctors may use DBS when medications have become less effective or if their side effects interfere with a person’s daily activities.

“We feel as though he is back,” said Yubrea Rivers Coleman, Tony’s daughter. “He is able to work and drive again, enjoy his 16 grandchildren and connect with us in a way that he hasn’t since the diagnosis.”

Family is extremely important to the Colemans. After learning about the Parkinson’s Foundation’s Moving Day Chicago event 2019, Yubrea secretly recruited relatives to walk as “Tony’s Team of Angels” in honor of her dad. He was grateful and touched by this gesture and eagerly joined family and friends for the annual walk. While at Moving Day, the family learned about local resources and support services that have proven helpful as Tony moves through his PD journey.

On October 24, 2021, “Tony’s Team of Angels” will participate in Moving Day Chicago at Soldier Field. As team captain, Yubrea is creating team t-shirts and leading the fundraising efforts. The team aims to raise $1,000 for the Parkinson’s Foundation.

About Moving Day Chicago

Moving Day Chicago is a movement for change—towards more awareness, more funding and more understanding of Parkinson’s disease. Moving Day Chicago will begin at 9 a.m. and feature fitness demonstrations, information booths, the We Move Ceremony, and the family-friendly walk along the lakefront. Approximately 2,000 people are expected to gather for the event in Soldier Field’s South Lot, and the Parkinson’s Foundation seeks to raise $350,000 from Moving Day Chicago.

To learn more and register for Moving Day Chicago, visit MovingDayChicago.org. Registration is free and participants are encouraged to fundraise.

About Parkinson’s Disease & PD Prevalence among African Americans
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative, progressive disorder that affects dopamine-producing neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra. People with PD may experience tremors, slowness of movements (bradykinesia), gait and balance problems, and non-motor symptoms including depression, anxiety, constipation, and cognitive impairment.

While the actual number of African Americans with PD is unknown, it is clear there are racial disparities in the access to health care, and diagnosis and treatment of PD. The lack of knowledge on the PD prevalence among African Americans reinforces the need for more research studies in this field.

Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with PD each year, and in Illinois, there are an estimated 29,700 people living with Parkinson’s disease.

 

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