Michael J. Fox has lived with Parkinson's disease for more than 20 years and, though the disease has affected Fox's mobility and speech, he continues to thrive with the help of medication, enough so to launch his own new TV sitcom, “The Michael J. Fox Show,” this fall.
Fox is an example of how people with Parkinson's disease can actively manage the disease and stay busy doing the work they love. He's worked tirelessly during the past two decades to fund research for improved treatments and, hopefully, to find a cure for Parkinson's disease.
Another such person with young-onset Parkinson's disease working to find a cure is Dr. Nicole Jarvis, a Norman OB-GYN.
Jarvis was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson's disease at age 38, less than two years ago. Since, she's on a crusade of sorts to raise money for national research and treatment for Oklahomans with Parkinson's disease.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research includes about 1,600 Team Fox fundraising groups worldwide, but before Jarvis formed one, there was no Team Fox in Oklahoma. Jarvis formed her team in August and by December, through door-to-door efforts and her first Nicole Jarvis MD Winter Gala for Parkinson's Disease Research, Jarvis' team raised $115,000.
In April, Jarvis was honored at an awards dinner hosted by Fox in New York for her team's ranking as the 12th highest fundraising team for all Teams Fox.
In January, Jarvis formed the Nicole Jarvis MD Parkinson's Research Foundation Inc., including a board with 12 members. Among those members are Mike Fowler, CEO of Fowler Holding Co. and Fowler Auto Group; Gene McKown, president, Ideal Homes Norman; Sherri Coale, University of Oklahoma women's basketball head coach; and Barbara Smith, chief justice of the Supreme Court of the Chickasaw Nation.
Now, Jarvis and her board are focusing on this year's gala, to be held from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Dec. 12. at Embassy Suites in Norman, which is the presenting sponsor of the gala. Jarvis hopes to raise at least $150,000 at this year's gala and said her foundation has already raised about $50,000, from sponsors including Republic Bank and Trust, Fowler Holding Co., Chickasaw Nation, Ideal Homes, Jack and Lisa Hooper, of Blu Fine Wine and Food, and Norman Regional Hospital.
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DID YOU KNOW?
A degenerative disease, Parkinson's disease kills the brain cells that produce dopamine, a hormone integral to controlling muscular movements.
Parkinson's itself is not deadly, but the CDC rates complications from the disease as the 14th leading cause of death in America.
About 15,000 Oklahomans live with Parkinson's disease, Jarvis said, and about 10 percent of all cases are young-onset, with symptoms showing before age 55. Most cases are diagnosed at about age 62, experts say.