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Do you know me? I do not smile! My voice is soft!

I will not respond to your comments as quickly as I would like. I might have a tremor. . . but I might not. I can seem anxious and overwhelmed but I am simply planning my strategy. What can I grab for support? How quickly can I unload the items in my cart before dropping them? Is my cash ready to go? I am stiff, I may ache and I may even be in pain. My legs might refuse to move. Will you notice? Will you be annoyed? I’m sorry I am taking so long. I’m trying. I’m trying to live my life just like you are.

I have Parkinson’s Disease and it can be a struggle but I have discovered that I am not alone.

The Westerly Parkinson’s Support Group would like to thank The Elm’s for providing a monthly meeting place to discuss and learn about Parkinson’s Disease in a comfortable and welcoming environment. We are thankful for the opportunity to invite experts in the many fields related to P.D. such as Movement Disorder, P.T, O.T and nutrition. And for the opportunity to meet, share and educate both those living with Parkinson’s and their caregivers. Here, in this space we are not victims. We are heard, seen, welcomed and recognized for who we are. I’m sorry turns to “I am able.” Frustration becomes confidence and small steps become shared victories. The burden on all of us is shared and lightened by the support we find here.

We would like to thank the Rhode Island chapter of the ADPA and Maryellen Thibodeau, RN Coordinator at Kent Hospital for starting our group and providing much needed support. Thank you also to the Westerly Y for providing activities that keeps us moving.

We offer a very special thank you to Geoff Visgilio for providing an incredibly inventive version of Rock Steady Boxing and Tai Chi offered daily at Westerly Fitness. These activities have greatly increased the strength and flexibility of all the participants.

It isn’t always easy and those with Parkinson’s Disease are faced with unique challenges. But thanks to this place and these services we are stronger than we ever thought possible. Above all, we are stronger together.

If you would like to learn more about a Parkinson’s Support Group in your area please call the RI ADPA Information and referral Center @ 401-736-1046 or email mthibodeau@kentri.org for information.

Bonnie Craig

Stonington

This letter was signed by the members of the Westerly Parkinson’s Disease Support Group.

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