While Andrew Slabin’s mom, Carole, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s almost 25 years ago, she wouldn’t share the news with her children for another 20 years. But once she did, Andrew says it brought their family closer—and inspired both him and his sister to take action.
At the time of her diagnosis, Carole was in her 40s. Her husband knew, but she didn’t want to burden her two children, who were in high school and college. Andrew says, “I think she felt we had enough to worry about then. I know it was a burden for her staying silent all those years—and is a relief now that she’s told us. But it was her right, and we respect that.”
With his parents and sister, Kim, based in the Boston area, the family got involved with the Massachusetts chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA), and Kim became a member of their board. A year ago, Andrew, who lives in New York City with his wife, Laura, and their two young children, joined The Michael J. Fox Foundation’s (MJFF) Leadership Council. He connected with the Foundation after discovering his wife, Laura, had gone to business school with MJFF’s then-CEO Katie Hood. “MJFF is my speed,” he says. “They have a single goal, and they say, ‘Let’s find the right people to enable us to get from point A to point B.’”
Through their involvement with the ADPA, which emphasizes patient care and wellness programs, and with MJFF, which focuses on funding research, he feels his family is doing their part to “bookend” the disease. “We’ve risen to this challenge, which has made my mom really proud. There’s been a silver lining for all of us.”
Being actively engaged with a nonprofit is a new experience for Andrew, a portfolio manager at a London-based hedge fund GLG Partners. But MJFF manages to make it “cool,” he says. He’s inspired by everyone he’s met through the Foundation, especially their “unbelievable passion for finding a cure.” He also admires that MJFF is “in business to go out of business.”
“I’m proud to say I’m a part of the Fox Foundation, and I’m happy to do whatever I can on its behalf. It’s been a form of therapy for me just knowing that I can contribute something—for my mom’s sake and for everyone who’s touched by this disease. Sometimes you realize the old saying is true: When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.”