Out of bad news-the start of a great thing....
Pat (Pinky) Erickson and husband Steve Erickson
Pat (Pinky) Erickson:
"In the Spring of 2001 I noticed that my right hand seemed to stiffen up at times. Thinking it was carpal tunnel syndrome from too much typing, I didn’t really worry until the Fall of that year when I tried to do the “chicken dance” with my 8 year old son and my hand wouldn’t move correctly. I saw my family physician. Just before I left his office, he asked casually if there was anyone in my family with neurological problems. Although there isn’t, that question began to gnaw on me in the weeks ahead. My family physician had referred me to a hand specialist who referred me to a neurologist. The neurologist made the diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. I was 45.
"For the first five years, I hid my diagnosis and told only a few close friends and close family members. Finally, my husband said to me that if any good was to come of this, I needed to tell people about it. After giving careful consideration to what he said, I decided that if I was going to come out, I was going to do it in a big way. About that time, my friend Marla and I were discussing doing a vintage fashion show. Marla asked me if I was doing it as a fund raiser and I thought, “why not?” Thus, Pinky’s Passion for Fashion was created.
"We raised over $12,000 at that fashion show and had a ball doing it. The money all went to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. We decided that we wanted to continue raising money to battle this disease. We wanted to include local Parkinson’s Foundations as well as national Parkinson’s Foundations. So, we formed Pinky’s Passion for a Parkinson’s Cure and incorporated as a non-profit corporation on November 30, 2007. Because we have no ties to researchers, we donate the money we raise to bigger organizations so we can focus on raising funds. In the five years since that incorporation, we have given other Parkinson's organizations over $156,000 - so when you add in that first fundraiser, we are at over $168,000 given for Parkinson's research. We hope to hit the $200,000 mark this year.
Since being diagnosed with PD, I have led an active life. I volunteer at the local elementary school, helping to teach Drama and Reader’s Theatre to a group of lively sixth grade students, and I tell stories as Mrs. Wigglesworth, an elderly lady, with an eclectic wardrobe. I am very fortunate that my medications allow me to do almost everything I want to do. The concern is, of course, that PD is a progressive disease and it continually takes more meds taken more often to produce the same result (I now take medication every 2-1/2 hours, basically around the clock). It is my hope that the advances in medications will outpace the progress of my disease.
So, what keeps me going? My faith in God, my family and my determination to make every day count. It is very important to me that my life count for something more than taking up space. I consider myself an encourager and am always happy to talk those who are newly diagnosed with PD. That can be a really scary time and I want them to know their life has not ended.
I generally try to cram more into each day than there is time. I always run out of time before I run out of ideas. I am determined not to waste time feeling sorry for myself. Every 60 seconds you spend angry, upset, worrying, feeling sorry for yourself, or mad is a full minute of happiness you’ll never get back. I choose to live my minutes happy!"