Barbara Ford from Stevensville, MI
Nominated by Mike Ford
From the day Barbara was diagnosed with Early Onset Parkinson’s, her goal has been to help those in the same situation. She has dreamed of starting an information/assistance center (Park-n-the-Son) for years and has channeled that energy into resurrecting a Parkinson Support Group in Berrien County, Michigan.
With the help of two other women, they started holding meetings at the local hospital. Barbara took over as full time facilitator approximately three years ago and the group has grown to a core group of approximately 14 to 16 people with additional folks attending the meetings depending on the weather and program.
One of the group’s goals is providing information on Parkinson’s to the community. With that goal in mind Barb led the group in securing additional Parkinson resource information books for the sixteen public libraries within Berrien County. Funds were secured through the local nuclear power plants grant program and purchased wherever the best price could be had. Distribution took place over a two year period and now the goal is to explore the use of loaner e-readers to provide this information.
Additionally the group is planning informational speakers for the local radio stations and business groups.Speakers at the meetings have ranged from park rangers, to doctors associated with Rush Hospital in Chicago and aides to the state representatives.
With others in the group, Barb has continued to build the group and provide information while at the same time fighting the continuing affects of this disease on her life.
Also nominated by Gerry Pendergrass
I want to honor the leader of the Berrien County Parkinson’s Group, Barbara Ford. Like the rest of us, she struggles with Parkinson’s. But when the support group needed a leader, she stepped up, and the group has benefitted greatly.
With the help of her husband, Mike, she has made each meeting meaningful. She has worked really hard to expand our knowledge of the disease, and to increase our awareness of community resources and current developments in the treatment of Parkinson’s. Her guest speakers have helped members get assistance for their individual needs.
Barb has traveled out of state to explore such things as early onset Parkinson’s strategies, speech therapy, and movement therapy. Going to Rush Hospital in Chicago for LST Speech Therapy helped her so much, that she started trying to get something like that to Berrien County.
Although Lakeland was hesitant at first, she wouldn’t give up. Finally in 2011 they sent 2 therapists for training, and today LSVT-Big is offered at Lakeland’s Rehabilitation Center. Her effort has led members of our group to getting the help, therapy, and additional information they need. Many of us would not have known of these support options had it not been for Barbara’s efforts and her husband, Mike’s help. Thank you Barbara, we could not have done this without you.