It is with great honor that I start my term as President of HAPS and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of this amazing organization and community. I’m excited to share my first year with the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Parkinson’s disease (PD), and I continue to be inspired by the character of James Parkinson as I lay out what I believe is the framework of our organization’s mission in 2017.
We ‘kicked off’ 2017 with one of our hallmark fundraising events, the Chevron Houston Marathon. Tackle Parkinson’s was this year’s theme and I was heartened by the hundreds of people who supported HAPS during the weekend’s races through walking, running, cheering, fundraising and donating. Not only have we raised over $100,000, but we brought awareness of HAPS to the broader community.
HAPS tackles Parkinson’s in a number of ways throughout the year and it is the focus of ‘wellness’ that infuses what we do. Our signature therapeutic exercise program provides exercise classes—healing the body, mind and spirit—and continues to be part of our mission 43 years later. HAPS provides 173 monthly sessions facilitated by 30 different group leaders offered in 32 locations to those living in our eight-county service area. Classes including dance, yoga, tai chi, water, exercise, boxing, singing, speech and music therapy, which along with support groups, give people with PD additional ‘tools’ in dealing with their disease. My enthusiasm for wellness through exercise will influence my leadership and I am excited at the prospect of discovering what else we can do to bring more to those who need it.
Connecting through our activities extends beyond our daily exercise classes. The benefits of socialization and friendships leave footprints on our organization for everyone and I highly encourage you to participate in our events. We offer ongoing education and enrichment programs, advocacy opportunities, social media and other creative outlets.
Our HAPS ‘team’ comprises of the Board of Directors and Advisors, and staff. All are crucial in this ‘game’ and all play a part in making HAPS successful, especially as we work to increase funding by telling our story so that we can maintain current programs and expand services to fill the increasing demand while keeping resources free of charge.
My story is also connected to Parkinson’s disease. My father, who died in 2014, tackled his disease as a young man, and his legacy to continue ‘the game’ is now firmly in my hands. His resilience, friendship, courage and tenacity inspire me every day and I hope to use these skills to lead our organization in tackling this disease. I can’t do this job without the dedication of my colleagues and staff, or the support of my husband Rod and daughters, Madeleine and Darcey who I thank for encouraging me as I take on this honorable task.