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  • Writer's pictureAmy Sherman

Shake, Rattle and Roll at the Grand Rapids Parkinson Walk

The Grand Rapids Parkinson Foundation Walk 2023 Heroes Honoree Renee Orr, left, and Behind the Mitten host Amy Sherman.

We mean this in the very best way! Join us and the 2023 Parkinson's Hero Honoree, Renee Orr, as we participate in the Grand Rapids Parkinson Walk this year as members of her team, Nae Nae's Shakes, Rattles and Rollers.

A sense of humor goes a long, long way when you are battling Parkinson's, trust Renee.

We are honored to also serve as the emcees for this year's Michigan Parkinson Foundation Heroes Walk, happening on Saturday, October 14 at Frederick Meijer Gardens. Parkinson's is a terrible disease that affects over 1.5 million Americans and over 35,000 people here in Michigan. Although it is usually diagnosed in people over 60, it can occur in people as young as 20, If you are diagnosed before the age of 50, you are considered early onset Parkinsons. No one ever wants to be a part of the Parkie club, but if you are diagnosed, the Parkinson's Foundation can provide invaluable resources to help you not just process your diagnosis, but also find a way forward, with support and help.

Behind the Mitten host Amy Sherman, left, and her cousin Chas Schaner, who is part of Team SPARK. Two teams on Saturday hit very close to home for us at Behind the Mitten. Team SPARK is headed by Amy's beloved cousin Chas Schaner, who has been battling this insidious disease for a number of years now, always with a "spark" of a smile and a joke to keep things light, even when it seems very dark.

Nae Nae's Shakes Rattles and Rollers! is led by the uncontainable Renee Orr, an absolute dynamo and Amy's very best friend since they were just kids, and who was diagnosed at the incredibly young, and absolutely heartbreaking age of 49.

When Renee finally received her diagnosis of Parkinson's it was after months of no answers, wrong answers, and general frustration, as well as being incredibly afraid of all the possibilities. While no one wants this diagnosis, at least knowing what was happening was progress to a new normal for Renee.

"You know, friend, this is a goddamn bitch of an unfortunate situation," I said upon hearing the news. Yes, of course, I'm quoting one of our favorite movies. It's just what we do.

Parkinson's attacks in so many ways, and every single case is different. For Renee, a busy mom of five kids, as well as an award-winning therapist and social worker, the diagnosis has left her not just still physically shakey, but also shaken mentally and emotionally.

As someone who speaks for a living, losing her voice is a real fear. "With Parkinsons, a real struggle happens with speech," Renee explained. "Our voices get soft and quiet, we lose words, we stumble on words. Speech therapy helps. Practicing using our voices LOUDLY is necessary. I'm thankful for the support in our community and to Michigan Parkinson Foundation for providing help for speech."

Speech therapy is just one of the programs that the Foundation provides. Renee has found an incredible network of support, resources, information, and love from the Parkinson Foundation over the last couple of years, a lifeline during this difficult time. Renee is this year's special Hero honoree, and when you hear her story that she'll share during the walk you'll know why.

"They do so much for us," said Renee about the Foundation. We hope that you'll consider donating to one of these special teams, or to the Michigan Parkinson Foundation to help them continue to do the good work that they do. Donate here.

The Michigan Parkinson Foundation (MPF) is dedicated to people living with Parkinson's Disease (PD). The Parkinson's Walks are a team/pledge walking event that allows MPF to continue our services and programs free of charge. The Grand Rapids walk features a beautiful, meandering route through Frederick Meijer Gardens. There will be Parkinson's exercise demonstrations, and entertainment for the whole family all while raising critical funds needed for those affected by Parkinson's here in Michigan Event Details

October 14, 2023 at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture ParkRegistration opens at 9:00 AM Programming starts at 10:00 AM Walk starts at 10:30 AM$20 for Adults ($25 Day-Of) Children are free Volunteer!

Volunteers needed! To learn more or to sign-up to volunteer, please contact Rita Dachs at Where Does the Money Go?

  • Financial assistance for in-home respite care

  • Medication assistance

  • Daily Parkinson exercise classes led by physical therapists

  • Weekly patient education programs

  • Professional education symposiums

  • Full-time staff social worker

  • Parkinson caregiving training module

  • Pro-bono legal guidance

  • Newly diagnosed patient information packet

  • 75 support groups throughout Michigan

All MPF programs and services are offered free of charge. More info:

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