A Big Boost
Welcome windfall gives Parkinson's group needed help
By ANNE C. HEYMEN,
Publication Date: 08/03/03
Here's a switch.
There's a neighborhood in St. Augustine Beach where the residents like to perform good deeds, but they don't want anyone to know who they are.
"We're a tight-knit group of community residents who prefer not to be identified," says the spokesman, who, like the rest, doesn't want his name printed -- so, we'll call him George.
Last month, this group, which likes to be known as the Alphabet Zoo because they live on A through F streets in St. Augustine Beach, handed over a $1,000 check to the Parkinson's Support Group, the results of a benefit Flip Flop Till You Drop walk.
The Parkinson's group was chosen, explains George, because some of the neighbors in the area belong to a band which plays around the First Coast. The sister of the drummer of said band was recently diagnosed with young onset Parkinson's, so band members and neighbors decided to do the walk to benefit Parkinson's.
Around the same time, the band traveled to Atlanta to play for the sister's 39th birthday bash.
She's a ball of fire, says George of the sister.
George also used those words to describe Kimerly E. Coshow, the director of the St. Augustine Chapter, age 36 and the mother of a seven-year-old. She, too, has young onset Parkinson's.
Kim was rendered speechless when George called her to donate the check.
And apparently "speechless" is something that Kim isn't prone to be, as she spreads the message far and wide about the local Parkinson's group.
"It was all I could do not to cry on the phone," Kim admits of George's call.Kim and the other members of the group have big plans for that $1,000 donation.
"I really want to mention this has never been done before," Kim emphasizes of the donation to the support group.
"We're usually several hundred dollars in the hole and stay that way," she adds of the group founded three years ago.
Kim would like to see the money used to buy educational books for a lending library, and "I would love to have a power point project."
At the onset of the St. Augustine support group, Cathy Barnes, now in charge of publicity, was coordinator.
Kim has coordinated the group for the past two years.
But her involvement doesn't stop there.
She sits on the advisory committee for the National Foundation for the young onset disease network, and in September, she's been invited to address a group on that topic at a meeting in Albuquerque.
She was officially diagnosed two years ago, but "I've had the disease for almost 10 years," Kim explains, adding it was really "freeing" to be finally officially diagnosed.
Kim is probably the youngest member of a nearly 40-member group whose membership includes those with Parkinson's and their caregivers.
Ages of the members include those in their 80s, like Peter Williams, who is 80 and was diagnosed five years ago. '"I denied it," he says of the diagnosis. "I'm still denying it."
Ed Morosky and his wife, Betty, are also members. Ed also has dementia, says his wife. Betty is chairman of the telephone tree for the group.
Jack Osborne, diagnosed with Parkinson's, and his wife, Jean, think so much of the organization that they travel from Palm Coast for meetings held the fourth Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. at the Council on Aging, Marine Street, -- except in August. However, this month, a special presentation is planned. See accompanying story for details.
The membership role for the St. Augustine support group has about 40 names. Meetings are attended by anywhere from 25 to 30 people, including both those with the disease and their caregivers. The St. Augustine group is a chapter of the National Parkinson's Foundation.
"We're here, we exist," says Kim.
George wasn't aware of that fact, he admits, until he saw an advertisement for the group and phoned Kim.
For the July 12 Flip Flop Til You Drop walk, which the Alphabet Zoo organized, each participant paid $20 to participate. For that they got a T-shirt and beverage tickets which they were to use at "every single restaurant" on old A1A, the walk route.
Participating restaurants include Beef 'O' Brady's, Holiday Inn, Beachcomber, Dunes Cracker, Sunset Grille, Starfish Grille, Papagallo's Tiki and FA Cafe. The walk ended at Jack's Barbecue on A Street, where the band played and walkers had a high old time.
Representatives from the support group couldn't say enough kind words to George.
"It means so much to us," the Osbornes emphasized. "One and all, we'd like to thank you," Peter added.
Similar words of praise are heaped upon Kim by the membership.
"I'm getting along pretty good, I think," Kim says of her disease.
"Speaking for myself," Betty adds, "I think she's wonderful."
"She's an inspiration to all of us," Jean chimed in.
"It's really more God than anything else," Kim responded.
And, the local support group will keep plugging along, hoping for a cure.
"It seems to be the only one thing they really know about it" now, Peter concludes with a chuckle, is Parkinson's "is not contagious!"
Click here to return to story:
© The St. Augustine Record