Annual gala on April 26 has goal of defeating Parkinson's disease

The Celebrate Hope Gala for Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon on April 26 will have plenty of hope to celebrate. Especially in Lake Oswego.

The event definitely has an LO slant because of residents like Anna Sanger Reed, who is program manager for Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon, and Bill Smith, who is fighting the good fight against Parkinson’s disease — and winning. They are now working to achieve a big turnout for the gala because it supplies a third of the PRO budget. Last year’s event raised $207,000. That buys a lot of hope.SANGER REED

“Our organization is all about finding ways to help people cope with the challenges of PD,” Reed said. “I had a volunteer jokingly tell me one day that we are the ‘Welcome Wagon’ of Parkinson’s disease. There is something very comforting for people not having to face this disease alone.”

PRO is able to immediately help someone who has just discovered they are suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

“They can call us and know they’re going to talk to a real person who knows about Parkinson’s, learn accurate and helpful information, and connect with resources that can really help them,” Reed said. “We can provide very individualized support and assistance based on each person’s needs.”

Smith is a great example of what Reed is talking about. The longtime LO resident was stricken by Parkinson’s disease five years ago. Not only is he extremely active in dealing with his own condition, but he is also a fundraiser for PRO support groups.

“I was stunned when I found out,” Smith said. “When my arm started jerking a bit I realized that something had changed in my body. If someone had given me a quiz about Parkinson’s disease I would have absolutely failed it. I was dragged down a bit.”

But not for long. Smith quickly discovered that PRO was available to help him learn about PD and help him deal with it. Smith is now among the ranks of the fighters against the disease.

“I’ve got a real good attitude,” Smith said. “Now I’m on the best drugs ever and I feel pretty comfortable. People tell me they never would have known I have Parkinson’s disease.”

A key for Smith’s successful campaign has been bonding with other sufferers of PD.

“I’m now a co-leader of a support group,” he said. “We’re going to have a dermatologist come speak to us because people who have Parkinson’s disease have a higher rate of skin problems. I had a friend die of melanoma. It isn’t Parkinson’s disease that kills, it’s the ramifications of it — skin cancer, choking, balance.”

There are some fun things on Smith’s agenda, too. He is now organizing a group of PD patients to go attend the filming of the opening episode of Michael J. Fox’s new sitcom on NBC in September. Fox’s own inspiring story has given a high profile to the battle against Parkinson’s disease.

To obtain tickets for Celebrate Hope, go to the website or call 800-426-6806. People can also help the event by donating auction items.

The April 26 gala will be held at the Oregon Convention Center. It will feature a cocktail hour, seated dinner, silent and live auction, entertainment and a celebration of those affected by Parkinson’s disease. Tickets are $150 per person. Doors open at 5 p.m.

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