BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Staff Writer
Jim and Lisa Lucas have always wanted to host a walk at Holly State Recreation Area and are excited about their first LucasStrong Walk/Run for Parkinson’s Disease on May 18, 2 p.m.
The minimum donation to participate is $35 per person and all money goes to Michigan Parkinson’s Foundation/LucasStrong.
“It is to help raise money for people to live better lives who have Parkinson’s,” Lisa said.
Jim was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 15 years ago when he was 44-years-old. He noticed his leg shaking in January 2005, less than a month after his mother passed away.
“I thought it was just coincidental,” he said, adding it went undiagnosed for about six months.
“It’s a neurological disease where the brain cells die,” he explained. “What happens is the ones that control your muscles – it misfires. My story is similar to a lot of people – when you first get it, it’s not bad enough if you don’t want anybody to know – you can hide it. I think there is a lot of people in that situation.”
He already knew about Parkinson’s disease because his mother had it.
“My knowing about Parkinson’s was really through my mother and father,” said Jim. “I was familiar with the charts and everything my father would keep on my mom’s progress. It’s a really tough disease, but definitely one we now know more about.”
He added there are medicines coming out which are helpful and when his mother had Parkinson’s disease exercise wasn’t as important as it is today.
“They thought she would hurt herself. Nowadays it’s the opposite – you want to get out and moving,” he said, adding exercise has helped him.
Lisa added people with Parkinson’s disease don’t have the same symptoms so right now there isn’t a cure.
“Some people progress faster than others and some just not as quickly. It just depends. Some are very rigid and stiff and can’t move around. Some people (like Jim) see he has a tremor when the medicine wears off. It’s trying to coordinate your medications because it’s almost like…”
“Hitting a moving target,” Jim finished. “I think is a good way to describe it.”
He added it helps to have a great team around him which includes his wife and two daughters, Alyssa and Kristina, family, friends and the community.
“They are very supportive. It’s something I can deal with,” he said. We have been blessed to be around good people.”
“Sometimes you take medicine and then you are moving all over the place,” Lisa said. “It’s trying to do the best you can. The biggest thing is trying to get it to stop progressing as fast. Exercise is huge. We have been really fortunate Jim has been able to exercise. We have a friend of ours who comes by every week and does yoga with us – that’s really helpful.”
Jim was already exercising as he was playing tennis when he was diagnosed, but it became harder as he had to move his feet quick to get in line to hit the ball. Plus, at the time, he didn’t want to share he had Parkinson’s disease.
“For a long time when you are trying to hide this and tennis game got worse and I didn’t want to do it anymore,” he said.
He found walking to be challenging but also fun and different and went to Holly State Recreational Park for his walk.
“It was something I really enjoyed,” Jim smiled. “Then, we were introduced to Aldi (at Body by Aldi) and did training with him. It’s been good because it individualized.”
Lisa added Aldi has taken steps to learn about the disease and make a difference. Working with five people with Parkinson’s disease.
“We know there are a lot of people who maybe their minds aren’t at the point they are thinking about going to exercise because they are so overwhelmed with the disease,” Lisa said. If we can help out to help make it easier for them that’s part of what we want to do with the funds with LucasStrong.”
Jim also had deep brain stimulation surgery within the last year which has helped.
“They put two electrobes into your head and it goes down to the center of your brain,” he explained. “Then, that gets hooked up to a battery pack. It’s helped out quite a bit.”
He almost didn’t have the surgery. Before the surgery, certain qualifications must be met and a week before the surgery, skin cancer was discovered. He was able to be cleared of the cancer and cleared to have the surgery.
“I guess you could say I am one of the lucky ones,” he said. “I feel like it’s something I can deal with and something hopefully with continued research they will come up with a cure.”
Within the last year, Lisa was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“We live in such a great community; Clarkston is so awesome,” she said. “There are so many people who are so helpful. People out of the woodwork coming by with food, with fruit baskets and cookies when I had breast cancer. We are so fortunate and blessed. All of Clarkston coming out and helping out. We appreciate it. It’s our time to give back.”
Funds raised from the LucasStrong Walk/Run on May 18 will help people in Oakland and Genesee counties with Parkinson’s disease and their families.
“Holly Recreational is great; they are excited to have it there,” Lisa said. “If you can’t come and want to sponsor, it is all going to Michigan Parkinsons Foundation.”
“Everyone has challenges,” Jim said. “This is mine and that’s okay. I will do the best I can with it.”
For more information and to sign up for the event, please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lucasstrong-34-walkrun-for-parkinsons-tickets-59302232574.