Frank’s leap of faith to help start Parkin­son’s group in the lo­cal re­gion

Fingal Independent - - NEWS - BY FIONA MAGENNIS

The for­mer Bal­brig­gan Mayor who un­der­took a Sky­dive in Aus­tralia to raise aware­ness for Parkin­sons has set up a new sup­port group for suf­fer­ers and their fam­i­lies in the lo­cal area.

Frank Snowe, who lives in Drogheda, was di­ag­nosed with the con­di­tion a year and a half ago and de­cided to do the jump af­ter find­ing in­for­ma­tion and sup­port for the con­di­tion dif­fi­cult to find lo­cally with the near­est sup­port groups based in Dun­dalk and Malahide.

Frank set up a crowd­fund­ing page to raise funds for the Parkin­son’s As­so­ci­a­tion of Ire­land (PAI) and is so far on course to reach his €2,000 tar­get.

‘We’ve got €1,700 in so far and we have prom­ises from some peo­ple who heard about it when I was over in Aus­tralia so hope­fully we shouldn’t have a prob­lem hit­ting the tar­get,’ said Frank.

Frank trav­elled to Aus­tralia in March to see his daugh­ter and took part in the para­chute jump at Jurien Bay in Perth along­side his grand­daugh­ter Emma.

‘I did the sky­dive and I sur­vived it,’ he said. ‘ Ev­ery­thing went well and my grand­daugh­ter did it with me. I was very very ner­vous go­ing up into it but say­ing that once you get over the ini­tial thing of hav­ing to jump off the side of the plane it’s one of the most beau­ti­ful things you can do.’

He said the para­chute jump was lib­er­at­ing and in­spired him to try other things he would pre­vi­ously never dreamt of do­ing.

‘When I was over there I said I can do a sky­dive I can roller­skate. So I did. I have two left feet at the best of times but your bal­ance is off with Parkin­sons as well so it was ab­so­lutely com­i­cal, I looked like Todd Carthy when he first ap­peared on Danc­ing on Ice. I’d never been on a moped so I gave that a go as well, I tried so many things that I’ve never done be­fore. I’ve been very down in the dumps since my di­ag­no­sis so this has given me a great lift. I re­ally gained a lot from the ex­pe­ri­ence.’

Now back home, he said the next step is to es­tab­lish a lo­cal sup­port group for other peo­ple in the area who have Parkin­sons and for their fam­ily and friends.

He said four peo­ple liv­ing lo­cally have al­ready been in touch to say they would be very in­ter­ested in join­ing and he is hope­ful that more peo­ple will come on board as word spreads.

‘ They’re all re­ally in­ter­ested in get­ting in­volved to start a sup­port group for peo­ple with Parkin­sons and their rel­a­tives so that’s go­ing to be the fo­cus now, to get the sup­port group off the ground and up and run­ning,’ said Frank.

‘Hope­fully my­self and the four peo­ple who have al­ready con­tacted me will be able to build some­thing out of it and it can grow from there. There are 9,000 peo­ple in the county liv­ing with Parkin­sons and we need sup­port.

‘Parkin­sons is very iso­lat­ing so you need to be able to meet up and talk about it with peo­ple who un­der­stand what you’re go­ing through. If you know you have Parkin­sons you sud­denly re­alise why th­ese things are go­ing on that you don’t un­der­stand.

‘Peo­ple think of Parkin­sons and they think of some­one with tremors but they don’t re­alise how many sym­toms there are.’

He said th­ese can vary from mood swings to rigid mus­cles as well as trou­ble sleep­ing and night ter­rors.

‘It’s a very lonely dis­ease. Peo­ple don’t re­alise all the im­pli­ca­tions and all the sym­toms. Ev­ery sin­gle per­son with Parkin­sons has dif­fer­ent symp­toms.’

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