A New Legacy: Kids of Parkinson’s

(Image via Parkinsons Movement)

(Image via Parkinson’s Movement)

Micaela Gaither , Series Editor

Challenge: Merriam Webster defines it as “to confront or defy boldly.” Challenge: something that shakes us to our core and changes us. Our world, our lives, are not unique to challenge. It’s something we all face. A challenge that 930,000 people in the US face is Parkinson’s Disease (PD). However, it’s not just those diagnosed with PD who are challenged each day. Their kids are also faced with a whole different set of challenges. 

Parkinson’s Disease is “a disorder of the central nervous system that affects movement, often including tremors” (Mayo Clinic).  PD often causes stiffness in all parts of the body and can affect facial expressions. It affects so much of the body that it often brings accompanying symptoms such as difficulty thinking, depression, swallowing and eating problems, and difficulty sleeping. It may not be a common disease, but it can have a drastic impact on the life of someone diagnosed, completely changing their everyday life. 

Jaydon Grant’s father, Bryan Grant, a former NBA Trailblazer, was diagnosed with PD over 10 years ago. Jayden has learned first hand the adversities that come with the disease, so he recognizes how it can be difficult to help care for someone with PD or to even begin understanding the disease. It’s a hard reality to face, knowing someone who your world revolves around isn’t going to be the same. 

“I’ve been in that position before too where you know your father has a disease like Parkinson’s, you know, the first thing you, you hear about is there’s no cure,” Jaydon said in an interview with KGW8.

It impacts the lives of those close to those diagnosed too. That’s what propelled Jaydon Grant to start Kids of Parkinson’s. This organization was built to help kids who have a parent with Parkinson’s learn more about the disease. It’s more than that though, it is a place where you can reach out to other kids who are going through similar experiences. It gives resources and helps kids better understand the disease and to better help those close to them with PD. 

Kids of Parkinson’s is connected to the Bryan Grant Foundation. The Bryan Grant Foundation gives resources to those suffering through PD and offers exercises and workouts. It’s easy for someone with PD to feel that moving and exercising is too much work, but an important part of staying as healthy as possible with PD is remaining active. There’s no cure for the disease, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle can reduce some of the more negative impacts of the disease. 

Hearing about organizations like Kids of Parkinson’s is always bittersweet for me. I grew up with Parkinson’s as a heavy presence in my life. I didn’t understand it at first because I was a kid. I eventually caught on though, noticing the little things: My dad walking differently than my friends’ parents. He retired at a young age, while the parents of my friends carried on working. I didn’t understand how he couldn’t always play basketball with me. How he can’t go on walks with my mom and me, because it hurts too much. I still don’t understand it. What’s worse is that those who don’t live with PD lurking around the corner have even less of an understanding of it. I’m a fixer, I want to fix things. Having to wake up, and know there is someone I love that’s in pain and suffering and I can’t do anything about it? It’s hard. It feels like an unsolvable calculus problem, where there is no right answer because the problem is theoretical. I rely upon the happy moments and push my way through the harder ones. 

Having the ability to reach out and interact with kids who’ve experienced and are experiencing the same thing is vital. It’s how friendships are formed and how we grow socially. Kids of Parkinson’s is an organization that is meant to create a community, to unify people who are going through something similar. To share experiences and to grow from them. Katrina Kahl, executive director of the Brian Grant Foundation, explains it perfectly: “It helps people who have a parent with Parkinson’s learn about the disease and meet other people sharing their journeys.” For a new generation of kids who’ve grown through their challenges while sharing their journey. Parkinson’s, like so many other diseases, isn’t a one-man battle, it’s a war fought by those who come together through adversity.