On April 2, PCRF hosted its 7th annual Golf for the Cure for Parkinson’s at Lake Ashton Club in Winter Haven, Florida. Despite thunder storms with heavy rain, the event was a bright spot for us during Parkinson’s Awareness month.
As always, the Lake Ashton community came together to support us and others on this Parkinson’s journey. TeamFox friends from around the state joined us and Sam Fox from the Foundation for our event.
This year was the first year I have fully allowed the entire Harmon family an equal say in event details and planning. Those who know the Harmon ladies won’t be surprised, when I say “I could not have done it without them.” In fact, I should have done it long ago.
This year we had a Marquis Partner, Family Elder Law from neighboring Lake Wales. In addition to expense and volunteer support, they agreed to match 10% of monies we raised for the Michael J Fox Foundation.
Due to the support and hard work of everyone, I am proud to announce that we raised over $48,000 – 100% of these monies will go directly to research by the Fox Foundation.
In 2006, at the age of 57, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a chronic, progressive, neurological
disease. That year I retired to enjoy the fruits of over 40 years of work. Like all people who receive life-changing news, I was devastated, but I was fortunate that I had a wise wife. Cecily reacted to the news
in an unexpected way. Her response was “Thank God it is not something that is going to kill you in 90 days. We can deal with this.”
Retirement offered many opportunities to do things you really never had done before. One of those was golf. I had played golf on a very sporadic basis during my life, but not in a way to have a golf swing.
Over the years my game has improved, but I knew that I would only be a mid-handicap player due to rigidity, a major symptom of Parkinson’s, and the hourly fluctuation of symptoms caused by the short efficacy of the medications. Despite the challenges, golf along with other exercise seemed to slow the progression of the disease.
It is every golfer’s dream to make a hole in one. So on May 6, 2013, I was ecstatic to achieve that dream. Of course I celebrated and then went back to playing golf. I was different then before because now I knew I could make a hole in one on any par 3, because I had done it. Being an optimist didn’t hurt either.
On September 14, 2014, I was fortunate to make my second hole in one. Again it was a time for celebration. Both holes in one were made on my home two courses at Lake Ashton, but they were on separate courses.
Eight days later on September 22nd we reached the first par 3, my golfing partners were giving me a hard time about since I had gotten a hole in one the week before, why don’t you just do it again. Laughing I stepped up to the ball and hit it. To my surprise it was a good shot, and to our surprise it went in the hole.
Two holes in one in eight days.
The odds of that happening are astronomical, even for a player who doesn’t have Parkinson’s.
I reflected on the accomplishment and tried to put in context. I have spent the last eight years living with Parkinson’s and preaching to all that will listen to keep active, positive and fight the fight. You never know what you can accomplish when you try.
Maybe next Monday they will find a cure for Parkinson’s.
I know, I know. No one likes a blog post that starts off … Sorry for being MIA lately, but. And here it is. There are plenty of excuses of where I’ve been, what the family has been up to, etc. But what it comes down for me personally, is that work has been insane and I’ve been missing out on my PD family.
Little Ben, 6, goes to bed every night praying that “daddy’s Parkinson’s” go away. He doesn’t know what that means really. Nor does he understand that his dad is playing an active role in the cure. Continue reading Where have we been?→
We’re a month away from the 5th Annual Golf For the Cure for Parkinson’s Disease!
Check out the press release I typed up for local media, and head over to Dad’s Team Fox page if you’d like to donate.
It could have been easy in 2006 for Winter Haven resident Bob Harmon to let a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease consume him. Instead, it did not only the opposite for him, but for his family and many in the Lake Ashton community.
It started as a tremor in his pinky finger in 2004, that turned into trouble eating cereal without spilling. Then his gait changed. After seeing a neurologist, it was confirmed, Parkinson’s. On his way back to work, he called his wife, Cecily, who said “Thank God it’s not something that will kill you in 90 days.” Not only has it not killed him, but it’s inspired him to mentor others, start a support group and raise more than $150,000 so far for the Michael J Fox Foundation.
In doing so, Harmon has spread the word of the disease known by many to affect old the elderly and some famous people Muhammad Ali and Michael J Fox. In 2009, Harmon held the first Golf for the Cure for Parkinson’s Disease in the Lake Ashton community. More than 200 golfers mostly from inside the community packed the two golf courses for a day of golf followed by a luncheon and auction. It became a packed, annual event and in its fourth year, the community helped Harmon raise more than $50,000 for the cure. In 2013, the tournament was in the top 20 fundraisers for Team Fox, the grassroots fundraising arm of the Michael J Fox Foundation.
This year’s tournament — the 5th Annual Golf For The Cure For Parkinson’s Disease — will be held Saturday, April 5 at 8:30 a.m.
Along with his fundraising efforts, Harmon created and facilitates the Lake Ashton Outreach/Support Group and Parkinson’s Cure Research Funding, his own nonprofit. The support group, which he runs with the help of his wife, is open to the general public to provide support to Parkinson’s patients and their care partners. The group meets on the first Friday of the month. Bob and Cecily are also involved in clinical trials, which they found through Fox Trial Finder, the Michael J Fox Foundation’s online clinical trials matching tool. Their twin daughters, Emily and Kate, are also signed up. Emily and Kate also raise money for other Parkinson’s efforts, and Kate writes for the Michael J Fox Foundation.
This year’s tournament will prove to again be a labor of love and hope as the Harmons, the Lake Ashton community and their friends come together to help raise money as they joke on the course. Bob has said he’s not sure a cure will come in his lifetime, but his efforts and those of the Winter Haven-Lakeland community will be a part of bringing that cure to those just like him.
So you probably have heard that I got my first hole in one.
As a background note, I really only started playing golf on a regular basis in late 2006, AFTER I HAD BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH PARKINSON’S. If you are a golfer, pick your favorite pro’s swing and imagine him or her on amphetamines, moving all over the place. Keep my eyes on the ball? Hell, I’m too busy thinking of what a pretty day it is, and what we are having for dinner. So, we have established I am a hacker.
Every time I (and all other golfers) stand on the tee of a par 3, we believe we can hit the perfect shot that will go in the hole. We all know it is a matter of luck, but we believe that we can do it.
Now, let me set the scene.
I was playing with two friends and I was having a dreadful round of golf. I was thinking about quitting and going home, but there was money on the line ($3), and I would hurt the team (like I was really helping). We arrived at the hole, which is an uphill green; 114 yards with a hurting right to left 15 mph wind.
As many of you know, we raise money through our nonprofit Parkinson’s Cure Research Funding, Inc. (PCRF) to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease. The vast majority of those monies are sent to the Michael J Fox Foundation (MJFF), because it is our belief that their business model and efficiency flow of funds is the best place for our money to affect the cure.
I have been honored by the MJFF to be named a fundraising mentor. My last assignment was to mentor an individual putting on their first charity golf tournament, “TeamFox Swing for the Cure”. The TeamFox member and her family were newcomers and really pretty much unknowns to the members of the community. This post is not about the effort that Toni Palumbo put forth, which was enormous, but rather the culmination of her and her husband Gary’s efforts.
I joined them at the Plantation Golf & Country Club in Fort Myers Florida last Thursday for the event. The weather was perfect. It was a great turnout and the event went without a hitch (that won’t be what Toni would say). I had told Toni: “Just tell me what you need me to do.” Well she didn’t really need me there (as I already knew), so I just wandered around in my TeamFox outfit meeting the participants. I ended up by the registration table greeting the golfers as they came in.
The next thing I knew Toni came over and said, “ I need your help.” Sure, give me something to do. She went on say one of the teams was a golfer short and I would have to play. How horrible and unexpected. I just happened to have my clubs in the car. Boy, life is good.
I was going to play golf at a new club and play it with the Florida EverBlades Hockey franchise team. I’m in my element, because my golf swing looks like I’m on ice skates. There were no “sand baggers” in our group so we didn’t win as a team. But I sure did.
As you know from my previous posts that I am doing well for having PD for 7 years and I get great pleasure when I can surprise someone with that fact. We were 6 holes in and we came up to a tee where Toni had arranged a fundraising event. They were asking for donations to cure PD. Well I stepped up to donate and turned to my group to ask them for money to cure Toni and me. For the rest of the round we discussed all aspects of PD. But enough about me.
At the luncheon after the golf event, Toni had all the fundraising opportunities and the crowd participated as you would expect. There were the usual presentations, and the moment that Toni was dreading, the speech. She had told me early on that she didn’t like public speaking (even without talking about PD). I had told her that this was why they were there.
Long story, short- home run.
They were seeing, listening, and living her journey, including the passion for the cure. Within minutes it went from money to awareness. It wasn’t about how much money she was raising; it was putting a face on Parkinson’s. A face they would see in the community, not on television. That brief moment multiplied the awareness factor geometrically.
Over 70% of the room responded positively to the question , “Whose life has been impacted by PD?” NOW THEY HAD A DAILY REMINDER. THE BEAST COULD NOT HIDE IN THE CLOSET.
Now we have another warrior, another champion, another sister in the fight.
Thank you Toni Palumbo, You have enriched my life as you will enrich the lives of those around you.
TWO SHOES ON AGAIN
It’s that time of year again. That time where Dad starts running around like a chicken with his head cut off getting ready for the annual golf tournament in their “active adult community” (that’s far more active than me!).
The Fourth Annual Golf for the Cure for Parkinson’s Disease will be Saturday, April 6, 2013 at Lake Ashton in Winter Haven, Florida. It’s a family event — and not just related family; all of Mom and Dad’s friends are there helping out and playing golf.
And in past years Emily and I have driven the beer cart as golfers hit the course before lunch and a raffle. Last year, we blew past our $35,000 goal and raised $42,543, which was matched by an additional $18,268 from the Brin-Wojciki challenge through the Michael J. Fox Foundation. This year, we’re setting the bar at $45,000. Continue reading Bob’s up and running with his April tournament→