Lubbock Christian University will host the West Texas Chapter of the Parkinson’s Optimism Run/Walk-a-Thon on the LCU campus on Saturday, April 6th. Volunteers will meet at 1 p.m. and participants will meet at 2 p.m. in the Rhodes-Perrin Recreation Center. From there, runners and walkers will complete either a 5K or 1 mile course through the LCU campus.
Coordinators of this event, Bob Williamson and his wife, Marilynne, share more than a marriage; they share a passion for healing. The couple both work as registered nurses, Bob as a RN supervisor and Marilynne as a RN, and they are both completing their master’s degrees in science and nursing at Lubbock Christian University. When the Williamsons set out in their vocations to heal others, they had no idea their own future would desperately need healing.
Bob had just graduated as a registered nurse, starting his first job in August of 2002, when he noticed a slight tremor in his right hand. The tremor increased and gradually became bad enough to see a neurologist who conducted a number of tests, diagnosing Bob with Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease is a disease in the brain that damages the neurons responsible for the production of dopamine. Without dopamine, there is loss of smooth control and coordination of movement of voluntary muscle groups. Beginning symptoms include hand or head tremors, slurring of speech and difficulty walking. In the final stages of the disease, there is severe rigidity of the muscles and an inability to move, speak or swallow. Parkinson’s disease affects more than 1.5 million Americans; 2500 of those people have it in the West Texas area alone.
Bob’s first few years with Parkinson’s disease were manageable with medication, but as is the nature of the disease, symptoms progressed leading to more tremors with more severity and more medication. Early in 2012, the disease attacked Bob’s ability to walk and he began falling. He also found that when the medication would wear off, he began to freeze; losing his ability to walk, talk and swallow.
In November of 2012, Bob underwent four brain surgeries, one of which was Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery. This surgery involves implanting wires deep into the brain and connecting them to battery packs implanted into the chest wall. The electrical impulses sent to the brain help Bob to control the symptoms. In April, Bob will undergo two more brain surgeries.
The number of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease is expected to double in the next few years and is becoming more commonly diagnosed as “young onset” in people in their 30’s and 40’s, as was Bob’s case. After living with Parkinson’s disease for 13 years, Bob and Marilynne Williamson were compelled to do something about this cruel disease. That’s why they revived the West Texas Chapter of the Parkinson’s Optimism Run/Walk-a-Thon and brought it to the LCU campus; the first run the West Texas Chapter has had in several years.
Proceeds from this event will go to the non-profit American Parkinson’s Disease Association to help find a cure for Parkinson’s disease and ultimately help people like Bob overcome this monster. However, this event is not possible without volunteers to direct runners, pass out various items and assist in registration. Anyone wishing to volunteer or participate in this event can contact Katie White at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the Parkinson’s Optimism Run/Walk-a-Thon, contact Marilynne Williamson at email@example.com.