I have recently experienced the end of a very specific era in my life. That is the end of my daughter’s athletic career at her school. My daughter, Carol, is a senior this year (2012) and has played sports at her school since 3rd grade. She is not planning on playing on any school teams in college, and she says she is ready for a break for all the extra work that those activities require. As a student-athlete she has been a participant in track, basketball, softball, and volleyball. I estimate that she has played in over 320 games/meets over the last 10 years.
Of this number of athletic competitions I can say that her dad or I have probably missed less that 20 of them. We have really enjoyed ‘supporting’ her in these activities. That means that we were present at 30 out of 32 sports events she participated in each one of those years. Before those activities she took Taekwondo along with us and we all obtained the status of black belt over a 3 year period. My husband and I will definitely have a void in our lives as Carol moves on to college and wants to take a break from competitive sports to focus on school, working to have her own money, and her relationship with a young man whom she has dated for almost 3 years now.
I hope my husband and I will find an activity that we can do together or individually to fill that void. As I think about the end of the era of Carol’s competitive athletic career, I think of the many good times we have experienced at games and how well she has done in many of the sports. We have met some great people along the way as we became so involved in that aspect of her school. And we are most grateful for the many great coaches and students she played for and with. I would try to list the coaches but fear I would leave someone out.
I would like to mention one man who was in my opinion, a visionary coach. Coach Bob Anderson became Carol’s basketball coach in 7th grade and he was different. He was a hard-nosed coach but it was for a reason. He challenged each one of his players to exceed their potential….to never be satisfied with ‘leaving the bar at the current level of talent’. One could describe a typical player to coach relationship with Mr. Anderson as a ‘love/hate relationship’. They didn’t like his yelling at times, but by the end of one season playing for him, all of the girls had a special affection for the man. Coach Anderson told us after Carol’s first year of playing that she had some awesome potential and if we and she would commit to some camps and hard work that she could excel in basketball.
In 6 short years, and with him coaching 3 of those years, she did exactly that. Carol has played in an estimated 175 basketball games games she has scored over 1000 in the last 3 years of playing basketball at Tri Cities Christian School and has been the MVP of the state basketball tournament in her junior and senior year. She helped lead her basketball team to back-to-back state championship titles the last two years.
Needless to say we are very proud of her and are dealing now with the bittersweet idea of her having played her last high school team sport game at Tri Cities Christian School. But who knows, God may have plans for her to coach, or some other way of being involved in sports that we might not be able to go and cheer for all the time, but no matter what she ends up doing… we will always be proud of her.
My daughter’s school sporting career began right at about the time I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. There have been many times that I prayed that God would allow me to be physically able to see my daughter play until she graduated from high school. The last year or so has been challenging in that regard. I have been there, camera-in-hand at all but a handful of games to document with photos the awesome play of the varsity girls basketball team from Tri Cities Christian School, Blountville TN.
While I am experiencing the end of one era in my life with some dismay, I also dream about the potential end of another era in my life. That era would be the one when a cure for Parkinson’s disease is available! At the end of that era, the emotions would be completely differentthere would be joy and not sadness. Many would enjoy the same outcome and all of many people would never have to worry about whether their illness would keep them from going to support their children or grandchildren in their extracurricular activities.
I have become involved with a group of individuals who are working to help facilitate the end of Parkinson’s disease along with Alzheimer’s disease. This group has been inspired by a man I would call ‘visionary’. This man is Enzo Simone and he has formed a project to raise awareness and funds for these two neurological diseases that have affected him personally through his mother (ALZ) and his father-in-law (PD). Enzo has challenged himself and others to climb 10 mountains in 10 years to help in the cure for ALZ and PD. The neat thing is that you can define your own kind of mountain to climb and be a part of the effort along with those who climb physical mountains. And there are others who are joining in the effort because they believe that as a focused group of regular people, (The Regulars and The Army of Change) that they can make a difference in the ending of 2 chronic diseases that affect many millions worldwide. Enzo and the Regulars are half way through his project and I have joined the effort. Becoming involved in this focused emphasis may be where my time is used in the near future. I hope that whether I am moving well or not due to the effects of PD on my body, that there will be something that I can still contribute to the effort. I selfishly want a cure for me personally, but I also want to be a part of the end of the era of PD and ALZ affecting people I know and love.
Although I can still dream that my daughter might still compete athletically someday in the future, I am not so sure of that really happening. On the other hand, with the inspiration and encouragement of so many affected by PD and ALZ, I dream with hope for a day when I can experience the end of the effects of these two illnesses on so many in this world. The vision of one man multiplied along with the efforts of regular people like me and you can make a difference in the end of that era. I hope you will check out the documentary movie, “10 Mountains 10 Years” directed by Jennifer Yee that chronicles the efforts of Enzo and the Regulars as they climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in 2009 and brings to light some of the effects of PD and ALZ on several people who are directly and indirectly affected by PD and ALZ. I think you might be inspired and be prompted to examine how you can help. You might discover that there is a reason to dream along with me of the end of an era of devastating effects on mankind by Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, and that you will join in with the Army of Change to help make it happen!
~ Judy Hensley
References for more information available on Facebook and the Internet at www.backlightproductions.com about the movie which is available as a DVD from Amazon.com. Find out more about Enzo Simone and his project at www.theregulars.org . There are also several blog articles at www.parkinsonsjourney.com about Enzo and other members of The Regulars.