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[back] World Parkinson's Day: Fun For One And All Anthony Thanasayan - 17 April 2008

World Parkinson's Day: Fun For One And All


I HAD a terrific time last Saturday. And so did scores of others who turned up at a special event to mark World Parkinson's Day (WPD) in our country.

Anthony Thanasayan, writer, President of Petpositive, member of MPDA with Kapt. Karim Stuart Russel.

The global awareness-raising celebration, which is famously noted for its red tulip as a universal symbol of the disease, falls on April 11 each year. (Parkinson's disease is a condition of the nervous system that deteriorates over a period of time. It causes the muscles to become weak and the limbs to tremble.)

In Malaysia, however, it was observed a day later at Petaling Jaya's Astaka sports field.

The half-day event was organised by the Malaysian Parkinson's Disease Association (MPDA) in Kuala Lumpur.

The 150 participants, mostly elderly persons with PD, were accompanied by their caregiver families, volunteers and friends. With their wheelchairs and walking aids, many converged as early as 8am at the sports venue off the Federal Highway.

Although the venue is normally used for sporting activities by the non-disabled, April 12 was notably different.

The MPDA had no plans to let any of its members remain a spectator that day. In fact, every participant had to take part in the activities that were lined up for them.

Whilst it is important for all PD patients (and caregivers) to keep abreast of the latest breakthroughs and treatments, I could not help thinking what a wonderful change outdoor activities made that day to the usual medical talks that have been a regular feature for PD patients in the past.

It seemed to me the fresh air, coupled with the opportunity to do normal things like others, is the best answer for anyone having to live with an insidious disease that is not about to go away.

Bee Peng (in red blouse), Organising Chairperson of MPDA's World Parkinson's Day Celebration, leading the members to the Hot Balloon Rides. Kapt. Karim lending a helping hand to a member of Petpositive into the basket.

Rather than being stuck in a room, listening to endless lectures about a disease that still has no cure today, what a refreshing change such an outing made.

All set to take flight! Up, Up and Away

The activities included telematches, with attractive prizes, and a line dance session.

The dances were fun to watch and participate in, and helped the PD patients to exercise their bodies, too.

There it is! Up Up and Above. Fun For One And All. Sara Lew (Middle) and Bee Peng with Petpositive members

The star attraction was the two-hour hot air balloon ride that lifted passengers 40m above the ground and back again. It was an exciting time for the elderly PD patients who waited eagerly for their turn.

Some of them had great difficulty walking and had to be carried into the hot air balloon basket. But the huge smiles on their faces afterwards said everything about their trip.

It spelt out the theme for the WPD event that day, that is, even if one has PD, there is nothing to stop one from going right to the top to achieve what one wants.

I was also impressed by the patience and support the volunteers showed in helping the PD patients in and out of the balloon. Everyone was allowed to board and disembark according to their abilities and in their own time.

If only more people can be like this!

Pictures are courtesy of Anthony Thanasayan from his blog : http://petpositive.blogspot.com

Note from the Editor of Berita Parkinson:
MPDA had invited 12 members from the Malaysian Animal-Assisted Therapy For The Disabled and Elderly Association to join in the celebration (PETPOSITIVE).