Category Archives: Emily Harmon

10 years in, reflections and re-dedication

dadIn a little over a month, I will celebrate the tenth anniversary of my diagnosis of Parkinson’s. Ten years ago, I was working and Cecily was not, and both of our girls were still in college. I was healthy or at least I thought I was, and I was fully engaged in the pursuit of the American dream. Then the doctor’s visit where I heard “You have Parkinson’s disease “which shifted my reality. With Cecily’s help, I was able to adjust to this new chapter of my life.

Parkinson’s has given me an endless task of pills and physical challenges. I am not complaining. I am fortunate that the disease is progressing slowly, but we can’t stop the march of time.

Parkinson’s has also given us a new community that participates in our journey. This community consists of a number of entities. First and foremost of which is a stronger family unit. The Harmon “Wonder Women” have shared the good, bad and the ugly. They are the foundation of our journey with PD.

Second is our friends, new or old. Without them, we are an empty shell. Thirdly is our TeamFox family. They make me laugh and they make me cry with their extraordinary feats and accomplishments. When we meet old Foxes or new ones, there is an instant bonding and understanding. The PD Warriors, whether part of TeamFox or not, make up a strong brotherhood of support and love that makes this journey much easier. Their focus is not on how many times they fall, but how many times they get back up.

So, my time with Parkinson’s has passed quickly. We have not found the cure, yet. We are moving forward. A number of promising research projects are in trials that may relieve symptoms and be almost as good as a cure. But that is not enough. We have lost too many of our fellow warriors, with the passage of time.

Recently, our family joined TeamFox in a 10K at the Disney Marathon weekend. When I crossed the finish line, I reflected on friends who have passed away with PD this year. I realized we are not doing enough. TIME IS OUR ENEMY!

THE TIME IS NOW TO RE-DEDICATE MYSELF TO FINDING A CURE. PLEASE JOIN ME. LET’S END THIS DISEASE.

TWO SHOES ON AGAIN (not running kicks)

A childhood friend leads to a Team Fox run

Here's Mom and Des!
Here’s Mom and Des!

A few years ago on my mother’s birthday, she found one of her long-lost childhood friends on Facebook. Needless to say, she was really, really excited.

So imagine just how excited she got when that friend and her husband ended up moving about 40 minutes away. Since then, Mom and Dad have spent a lot of time with Desiré and her husband, Jack.

That lifelong friendship took another huge step forward recently when Jack announced he would be doing the Tri Rock Triathlon in Clearwater for Team Fox in my dad’s honor. Talk about friendship, right? Jack also had an uncle who battled Parkinson’s.

Take a look at Jack’s page, and please feel free to donate to the cause.

My name is Jack Foard. My good friend Bob Harmon has Parkinson’s.
Since his diagnosis some years ago Bob has given everything he has to do battle with the disease, but not just for himself, he has been fighting for every single person and every single family afflicted by the disease. In my own family, a dear uncle, Ted Bell lost the fight a few years back.
Bob has raised ten’s of thousands of dollars for Team Fox, funding worldwide Parkinson’s research. As the hundreds of people Bob has personally helped deal with the disease will tell you, Bob lives a full life made fuller by focusing on others.
Today I am focusing on Bob. I’m pulling my 67 year old body into shape to finish this sprint triathalon hoping that folks like you, folks who want to win the race against Parkinson’s will give a few bucks in Bob’s honor (or in honor of a loved one.)
I’m swimming, biking and running (walking actually) to honor Bob Harmon and the selfless way he has helped anyone and everyone touched by this cruel disease. And for Uncle Ted, a dear man and a fine athlete in his day. And for you and your loved ones too. The dollars you pledge today will be responsible for the improved treatments of tomorrow and someday the cure. Thank you so much for taking the time to make a pledge now.

Dad, Mom and Emily will be there as Jack raises money for his uncle, my dad, and all of you fighting this cause with us.

‘Dad, this isn’t about me, it’s about finding the cure’

What a month April was.

We started off the month with the whole family gathering for the 5th Annual Golf for the Cure. For those who remember last year where everyone told me “You did to much,” I made a pledge that I would get more help this year. Well, I lived up to that pledge and was fully recovered two days after the tournament. Thanks to all who helped me carry the load especially my family.

The event once again showed the generosity of the Lake Ashton community. We raised over $47,000 this year, which brings our five year total to over $200,000 (including matches through the Michael J Fox Foundation). The event also had a few surprises for Bob (I hate surprises). Since the event coincided with the MJFF MVP dinner, which we were unable to attend, and members of the foundation were unable to come to our event. Hence the surprise, we received a two-part video with Stephanie Paddock from the foundation and Michael J Fox with a personal message for our community and my family. Due to a production glitch, Emily’s name was left out. When the family told me of the problem the night before two things happened. The foundation went out of their way to send a letter to Em and a picture from Michael thanking her during MVP. But the best thing that happened was Emily’s immediate response. She said: “Dad this isn’t about me, it’s about finding a cure.” Boy, does she get it or what.

At the end of the month the local newspaper ran an article about our efforts in the community. It is an honor to be chosen for the piece, and I am somewhat embarrassed by the attention. The upside is our journey was exposed to almost 70,000 readers, and it was Parkinson’s Awareness month after all. As I was reflecting on the month and being “out there,” I thought of Emily’s comment and everything fell into place.

This isn’t about me. It’s about finding the cure

So, thank you again to all those who helped us, all of the donors, and to the Lake Ashton community, you are part of the effort to Find the Cure. Thank you Emily for reminding me of the lessons we have previously learned.

TWO SHOES ON AGAIN

How much did Golf for the Cure bring in …

Did you see who Team Fox featured on Inspiration Monday?
Did you see who Team Fox featured on Inspiration Monday?

I just wanted to share this photo of Dad with you all and tell you some big news.

So there are still some checks and dollars to be counted, but the 5th Annual Golf for the Cure for Parkinson’s Disease has raised MORE THAN $45,000 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

SAY WHAT?

That’s right. Thanks to your support, our sponsors and the Lake Ashton community, in five years, you’ve helped us raise more than $200,000 for the foundation to help find a cure.

I interviewed a mother today, who was diagnosed less than a year ago with PD. She was talking to me about why we do this. Why we fundraise. Why we participate in clinical trials. And she said:

“Maybe more moms at the age of 42 won’t have to look at their kids and say this is going to be a long road, but we’re going to just fine.”

Thank you, thank you, thank you. For being a part of this goal and our journey. We seriously could not do it without each and every single one of you.

A very special Christmas gift

It was really hard for me to contain myself this year when it came to a Christmas gift for Dad. I came up with the idea of making a book full of photos of his (our) Parkinson’s journey.

I reached out to a handful of our closest Team Fox friends to add their words of what Dad means to them.

Needless to say, it was a giant hit.

Dad spends so much time doing things for others and making sure they aren’t down. I wanted to do everything I could to show him that he isn’t alone either. That all of these people are ready and able to help pick him up when he’s feeling down, too.

Best gift ever. Take a peek.

Click here to view this photo book larger

Click here to create your own Shutterfly photo book.

Chasing fireflies with skin in the game

And we did it!
And we did it!

So I’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo for awhile. I brought it up to Emily maybe a year ago and she actually said: Where do you want to get it? The inside of your wrist?

Seriously, weird twinsie thing going on there because that’s actually where I wanted it.

The reason I hadn’t done it yet is because I was torn between two ideas. What I really wanted was a little firefly. Why? Because of this passage I found in the beginning of Dan Barry’s “Pull me up.”

I have rustled through life with a notebook pressed to my chest and a pen bleeding in my pocket. They are the instruments I use to ease the low-grade panic born of the absurd sense that it is my passion to record moments. I chase stories with pen and paper the way a child chases fireflies … But when I capture those moments, those fireflies, I do not know what to do next. The light dies to leave shells of moments, just words, recorded on scraps of paper, bar napkins and old reporter’s notebooks that I keep in boxes.

Why do I feel compelled to record life at the expense of living life? Why do I ignore the lessons learned from what I have been through? Why do I want to repair things that are beyond repair? Why am I nagged by the constant sensation that I should be somewhere else – standing there, not here; witnessing that, not this?

I read the passage to Mom and Dad the other day, and Mom yelled out, that sounds just like you. Turns out though, there aren’t any nice images of fireflies that I could find. Shocker.

My other idea was the Team Fox/Michael J Fox Foundation symbol, the fox.

Continue reading Chasing fireflies with skin in the game

Even more big news about the Harmons, Parkinson’s and the media

The awesome, unstoppable Harmons.
The awesome, unstoppable Harmons.

Not only did the Harmons go national, but the Michael J Fox Foundation also had me write 200 words that were sent out in an email from the foundation.

That email went out on Wednesday, encouraging people to read the blog about us and asking them to join us by sending a Father’s Day e-card with a donation to the foundation. As of this afternoon, I was told they’ve had 19 cards mailed and more than $2,000 donated. In just one day!

Not only that, but today the Huffington Post picked up my email and the blog about our family and put me on their site. Seriously!? Big news. Not only will that post reach so many people we couldn’t reach on our own, but the HuffPo now allows me to submit blogs on behalf of the family and Parkinson’s and share our story with so many more people.

Maybe it’s the media person in me, but I am so excited over this development. And I can’t thank the Michael J Fox Foundation (Holly and everyone!) and my awesome, unstoppable family.

Click more to see the email that was sent out, and what the first draft was that I didn’t choose.

Continue reading Even more big news about the Harmons, Parkinson’s and the media

The Harmon family goes national

Yep. The unstoppable Harmons.
Yep. The unstoppable Harmons.

In case you didn’t see it on the Michael J Fox Foundation site already, the Harmons are UNSTOPPABLE. And national.

We were interviewed by the foundation for its Father’s Day promotion — families doing awesome things for an awesome Dad.

The post is called: For the Unstoppable Harmon Family, Every Day Is Father’s Day.

It mentions, of course Bob! And Cecily and her PPMI trial. It mentions Emily and me as awesome daughters. It brings up Dad’s $50,000 in this year alone from his golf tournament and my Pints for Parkinson’s.

All in all, a great story of a family I’m proud to be a part of.

And yet there’s still so much more we can say about it. Dad’s also a Team Fox mentor and has helped others with their events. He and Mom also run a monthly support group.

I don't think Em gets enough credit for rocking.
I don’t think Em gets enough credit for rocking.

Emily and I participated in the Unity Walk together this April, and together brought in about $3,600 for the walk, which benefits the foundation, as well.

Parkinson’s is a funny thing. It sucks and it goes after people you love. But in the end, for us, I think it’s brought us so much closer. It’s enabled us to talk openly and about things we probably would have never done.

I am so honored to be a Harmon. I love you Emily, Mom and Dad.

 

Em’s trip to the big city and understanding of ‘You are not alone’

Here's Kate and me at the Unity Walk kickoff, with Time Square in the background.
Here’s Kate and me at the Unity Walk kickoff, with Time Square in the background.
A few weekends ago, I made a big trip north. Kate picked me up at the airport in Baltimore, MD bright and early (at least for her) and we drove to Jersey City, NJ. The anticipation of how the weekend would turn out was extremely high for me. Firstly, I had never been to New York City. On top of that, the nervousness I had for using the subway system or a cab was high. I have to admit that I love watching crime shows and of course most of the bad stuff happens in NYC. Plus you hear that the cabbies will hit people on the street and keep going. For someone who lives in wide open, flat country, this was a big feat.

As we came off the NJ Turnpike, I saw the majestic city. Unfortunately for Kate, I was a horrible navigator because I was too busy getting pictures of the skyline and the Statue of Liberty. Once we got to our cousin’s place, she sat us down and showed us where to walk to get on the correct subway and where to get off. She took us to the terminal and helped us purchase our Metrocards and we were off, in the middle of Friday rush hour.

My first subway ride.
My first subway ride.

We made it to Time Square and walked to the Marriot for the Parkinson’s Unity Walk welcome party. As we were navigating the crosswalks and the crowds, Kate was trying to take pictures of my first time in the “Big Apple” (of which I disapproved). The welcome party was filled with others in the same fight as our family. It was awesome to have people come up to us and ask why we were involved and what a great day we were going to have the next morning. We met people for the MJF foundation and families who had seen what we were all about and excited to finally meet us in person. For me, this event was the right way to begin the walk to come. It was the first time other than my dad’s golf tournament where I got to get out into the PD community.
Continue reading Em’s trip to the big city and understanding of ‘You are not alone’

United we stand against Parkinson’s

Emily, Jessie Kate, me, Virginia, Chloe and Greg
Emily, Jessie Kate, me, Virginia, Chloe and Greg

It’s easy to feel small sometimes (even for someone who’s 6 feet tall). Work and life get stressful, and you feel helpless. I can’t imagine what it’s like waking up every day and trying not to let Parkinson’s disease make you feel small and helpless.

But what I do know, is that on Saturday, April 27, no one in Central Park was helpless against Parkinson’s. None of the more than 10,000 people there for the Parkinson’s Unity Walk.

I don’t even know how to get started talking about our weekend in New York City for the Unity Walk. So I’m going to try to explain the weekend.

First off, it was Emily’s first trip to the city. And man was she excited. So excited, she wasn’t giving driving directions because she was too busy snapping photos.

Here are some highlights:
Continue reading United we stand against Parkinson’s