Jackie Hunt Christensen
Jackie Hunt Christensen from Minneapolis, MN
Nominated by Margaret Fell
Jackie Hunt Christensen was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at 34, shortly after her second son was born. No one in her family knew about the disease, but because of Jackie’s courage, candor, and gentle humor, our family and countless others have shared her journey with Parkinson’s. Jackie is the embodiment of the song, “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” for she has dedicated her life to ensuring that those with whom she shares this disease do not walk alone.
Jackie is an articulate, passionate, and compassionate advocate for those with PD. Diagnosed so young, she shared her early onset experience with those like her. In her first book, The First Year: Parkinson’s Disease, An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed she wrote, “you are the same person you have always been, but now always accompanied by an uninvited guest who will monopolize and control your life as much as you let it.”
Jackie has never allowed PD to control her life. In 2009, after her own DBS surgery, she authored, Life With A Battery-Operated Brain: A Patient’s Guide to Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery for Parkinson’s Disease. She has written numerous articles as an informed patient and advocate, testified at Congressional hearings, been a frequent conference speaker, a spokesperson in the Parkinson’s community, and since 2009, a patient representative for the FDA’s Parkinson’s Disease Advisory Committee.
Jackie is an inspiration and heroine to her mother, Rosemary, and her aunts, Louise, Helen, Carole, and Margaret who nominate her. Jackie too will never walk alone.
Also nominated by Matthew Hanzlik
Jackie Hunt-Christensen is a superstar to many people in her life – she just so happens to have Parkinson’s disease as well. I nominate Jackie as a Parkinson’s Superstar because she channels her superstar qualities towards Parkinson’s to amplify the positive force she has in our community.
Jackie’s activism has spread the word about Parkinson’s resources to thousands. From writing books, blogs and editorials to speaking with support groups, medicals students and members of Congress, Jackie is never hesitant to share her personal Parkinson’s story and wealth of Parkinson’s knowledge. Jackie provides her wisdom and guidance to the National Parkinson Foundation Minnesota as Vice Chair of the Board and to the Parkinson Action Network as State Director for Minnesota.
But Jackie goes beyond those roles and transcends the entire PD community. When Jackie recognized a need to bring the PD community together in Minnesota to share information, she convened a summit with over 250 attendees. Jackie’s motivation and determination was contagious and spread to all in attendance, including a US Representative and Senator.
Witnessing that same motivation and determination from Jackie encouraged me to become active in fight against Parkinson’s. Jackie was one of first people my family met after my mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2006. Within minutes, my mom and I knew we had found a new friend – someone who was incredibly warm, welcoming, knowledgeable and absolutely determined to do everything she could to improve the lives of those living with PD and to find a cure. Working with Jackie is inspiring – she is truly as Parkinson’s Superstar.
Also nominated by Paul Christensen
Jackie Christensen is my Parkinson's superstar. In the 14 years since her diagnosis, she has focused her energies on helping people understand this disease and helping everyone understand that life goes on with Parkinson's and we can all work to improve the lives of people with Parkinson's. She has written two books about Parkinson's and is working on a third. She is the Minnesota state coordinator for Parkinson's action Network and attends numerous Parkinson's conferences around the country. In spite of the struggles of coping with the fatigue and pain of the disease, she maintains an intense focus on helping others to understand Parkinson's. Jackie is also my wife. She is just as relentless in her determination to make a good life for me and our two boys. She is the one in the family that makes birthdays and holidays special and she is the one with the gentle, diplomatic touch to ease the pain fo the rough spots any family goes through. Parkinson's is ever-present in her life and our lives, but it doen NOT define our lives, thanks to the tireless devotion of this amazing woman.