A day of educational fun for persons with Parkinson’s Disease

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Nick Kamm/Rambler Newspapers

Nick Kamm/Rambler Newspapers

Over 720 enthusiastic guests gathered at the Irving Convention Center for the Davis Phinney Foundation Victory Summit on Saturday, May 3rd. The Davis Phinney Foundation was founded in 2004 and aims to improve quality of life for persons diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

The Victory Summit, an all day event, featured a variety of prestigious guest speakers including Parkinson’s professionals, medical specialists, nutritionists, neurologists and speech therapists. In addition to a live musical performance by The Loud Crowd, the event featured yoga, dancing, exhibitors and more.

The informative event educated guests on developments in research for Parkinson’s disease and healthy living. In addition, speakers emphasized the importance of exercise.

Parkinson’s disease specialist and physical trainer with Samford University, Dr. Matt Ford, explained the importance of physical activity to the attentive audience.

“It’s an uphill climb, and I liken it to learning how to ride a bike. For many of you, exercise has not been a part of your life, so you need to start with training wheels,” Dr. Ford said. “There will be some good moments – some happy moments. There’s going to be some moments that you stumble, that you crash. There’s going to be some tougher battles along the way if you stick with it. But, in the end, I think you’ll find if you stick with exercise that you’ll feel victorious related to Parkinson’s disease.”

The Davis Phinney Foundation, a non-profit organization, has allocated over 1.2 million dollars to innovative research in treatment options, speech pathology, neurobehavioral health and more.

Founder and inspiration, Davis Phinney, was the last speaker to take the stage at the Victory Summit. Phinney, Olympic Bronze medalist and Tour de France stage winner, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2000.

The adoring audience at Saturday’s event listened intently to Phinney’s incredible story and inspirational speech entitled, “Moments of Victory”.

“Welcome, as I like to say, to a tremor-free zone,” Phinney said. “Commit yourself to a long-term course of action. Make yourself a promise. I can improve my function. I will improve my quality of life. I can do better. Believe in the process. Commit yourself to some form of exercise or activity. Will it tax and test you? I certainly hope so.”

“’Parkinson’s already taxes me too much’ you might be thinking. Fair enough, I feel your pain. But here, today, as of right now, we are all living, breathing, and our lives matter; our quality of life matters,” he said. “The important thing is to start. By coming to this Victory Summit you’ve signaled that intention and interest. Baby steps, either literal or proverbial, are fine. But you need to leave here with an ambition.”

Phinney also discussed an incident where he fell off of his bicycle and received stitches due to his injuries.

“Despite the doctors orders to take a week to ten days off my bicycle, forget that. I raced the next day, and guess what? I won,” Phinney said.

“Carl Aims, another friend of ours from Phoenix, took up cycling a few years after he was diagnosed [with Parkinson’s] in 2008. And just last year, he took his first 100-mile bike ride,” Phinney said. “As I speak, I could call him and he’d be on his bike right now. He’s riding from Vancouver to Portland as part of a Parkinson’s fundraiser. There’s lots of heroes like that – super heroes.”

During the afternoon, attendees separated into breakout sessions. The interactive workshops featured notable professionals including neurobehavioral health specialist, Joanne Hamilton; Baylor movement disorder specialist, ElmyraEncarnacion; Dallas sleep medicine specialist, Sonya Merrill; neurologic music therapy specialist, Carolyn Dobson; Samantha Elandary, with the Parkinson Voice Project; Jo Bidwell, with the Southwest Parkinson society; and many more.

The inspirational Victory Summit has inspired audiences in multiple other states including New York, Florida, Oklahoma, Virginia, California and more.

For more information about the Davis Phinney Foundation and to learn more about their exceptional programs, visit www.davisphinneyfoundation.org.