Allison Smith-Conway from Laguna Niguel, CA
Nominated by J.P. Smith
Ally is a Superstar due to the giving nature of her work. She became an early onset Parkie and consciously decided to turn her affliction into a blessing for other Parkies, young or old. She and her husband, Jason Conway, hold weekly exercise classes (certified instructor), publish an online blog, counsel (certified family counselor), raise funds and even hold dance classes at Cheryl Burke’s (Dancing With the Stars) dance studio. She recently presented at the Parkinson’s Symposium in the University of Arizona’s Duvall Auditorium. She had hundreds of Parkies working on their balance and breathing, followed by her story of Deep Brain Stimulation and exercise. She is a selfless person, deserving of high praise.
Watch one of Allison's dance classes in action!
Also nominated by Karen Procopio
Allison Smith-Conway is a model of tenacity and perseverance. She has battled several serious illnesses, undergone multiple surgeries, and endured life-changing procedures, yet embraces her life with joyful exuberance and optimism. Allison inspires all those who have the pleasure of meeting her and hear her incredible story. Her book has the capability of changing the lives of her readers - both those who endure chronic illnesses, as well as the caretakers (families and friends) who walk the journeys with them.
I am a computer science teacher at a school for gifted middle-school students. Allison visited my classroom and spoke with my students about her illness and the modern medical technologies used to diagnose and treat her. Her ability to speak frankly about her medical procedures, as well as share her personal philosophies on life, created a long-lasting effect on my students, who demonstrated a great appreciation and respect for her.
Also nominated by Cindy Smith
Allison was diagnosed with Colon Cancer at the age of 24 and went through 13 surgeries within three years due to complications. After fighting for her life in her 20's, she now fights Parkinson's disease, which she was diagnosed with at the age of 32. Despite all this, Allison, 34, looks healthy and has the energy of an athlete. Her motto is that any dilemma "doesn't need to be a negative experience." After completing her Deep Brain Stimulation surgeries, she began searching for ways that she could bring hope to the community of which she is now a part. Seeing the need for support of those affected by debilitating illness, Allison uses her knowledge and strength to help people that face the challenges that come with this disease. With her unique insight, she created a program called Parkinson's in Balance which brings individual/family psychotherapy, support groups, community events, and fitness classes to those with Parkinson's. All services are offered at no cost. Allison states "Parkinson's disease has no idea what I am capable of...I will seek out opportunities to weaken the disease and give hope to its victims." Allison Smith-Conway holds a Master's degree in Marital and Family Therapy with an emphasis on Health and Fitness. She is a personal trainer holding certifications in Sports Performance and Corrective exercise. As part of Allison's commitment to community, education and awareness, she is available to speak to groups about the emotional aspects of Parkinson's disease, and other resources offered by her program.