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Northwest Parkinson's Foundation Leaves Cure to Others, Focuses on Today

Friday June 27, 2014

Josh Kerns

My Northwest - Plenty of big, national organizations are working to find a cure for Parkinson's Disease. But that's little help or comfort for those dealing with the disease today.

"We love research. We support research. But the cure isn't going to come tomorrow. But somebody is going to be diagnosed tomorrow and we want to be there for them," says Steve Wright, executive director of the Northwest Parkinson's Foundation.

The organization is the only independent Parkinson's foundation dedicated to improving quality of life. Its goal is simple: making every day better for people with Parkinson's and those around them.

"There's a huge need for this in the Northwest because there's 70,000 people living in these five states with Parkinson's Disease," Wright says. "And then if you multiply that by their friends, families and caregivers, there's tens of thousands out there that need support and education."

The organization focuses on being a one-stop shop, providing information, education, support and advocacy. Their programs emphasize three areas: movement, connection and engagement, Wright says.

"What we try to do is look at the other side, the non- clinical side of symptoms. We believe that if people with Parkinson's move, connect and engage, their lives are going to be better."

The services can be critical, especially when someone first gets diagnosed with the disease.

"We have a social worker, case manager, counseling. It's overwhelming. It can be debilitating just receiving that diagnosis of Parkinson's disease."

While it serves five states across the Northwest, the organization remains small and nimble with six full-time staffers and a budget of under $1 million. But Wright says that allows it to try new things.

"Being independent, we can do whatever we want, whenever we want. People love that," he says. "People come to me and say 'We have this idea for a new program, have you ever tried that? No. Let's give it a shot.' We're willing to take chances to make people's lives better, right here, today," Wright says.

Since its beginning, NWPF has played a vital role in supporting the Northwest Parkinson's community. NWPF's strong partnership with Evergreen Healthcare led to the establishment of the Booth Gardner Parkinson's Care Center in 2001. The Center has grown into a state-of-the-art neurological care center.

The NWPF is also a founding member of the Alliance of Independent Regional Parkinson Organizations (AIRPO) that came together in 2014.

The stations of Bonneville Seattle, The Seattle Seahawks, Les Schwab Tire Centers and Carter Subaru are proud to honor Northwest Parkinson's Foundation as the charity of the month.

Kerns, Josh (27 June 2014). My Northwest. Northwest Parkinson's Foundation Leaves Cure to Others, Focuses on Today. http://mynorthwest.com/11/2551192/Northwest-Parkinsons-Foundation-leaves-cure-to-others-focuses-on-today