Editor's Note: For Foundation news, research updates and tips on living well with Parkinson's, read the Fall/Winter 2016 edition of The Fox Focus, our biannual newsletter.
When Errol Jacobs learned he had Parkinson's disease (PD), like many newly-diagnosed people, he kept the disease secret. A retired teacher and world traveler, he was determined that Parkinson's would not prevent him from going out or seeing the people he loved most.
His close-knit family -- which included siblings Gary, Brenda and Lynne, their spouses and numerous nieces and nephews -- saw the changes he was experiencing. So when Errol did share his diagnosis, they rallied around him. No one in their family had experienced PD before, and they didn't know much about the disease.
"We began to find ways to support him," explains his sister, Brenda. "We cooked together, watched basketball and talked about his favorite topics of politics and the arts, not just Parkinson's. With the help of his caregiver, Vero, he was out all the time."
After living with Parkinson's for more than a decade, Errol passed away in December 2014 at 77. As he made estate plans, he decided to bequeath a generous gift to The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF).
"He wanted a cure to be part of his legacy," shared his sister, Lynne. "He was clear about wanting to know where Parkinson's comes from and helping researchers get out there and cure this."
Commitment to helping others learn, grow and advance was always part of Errol's values. His career as a high school English teacher spanned nearly 40 years and thousands of young adults. His colleagues and students alike valued his ability to spin an amusing or mysterious story. He served as a mentor to many students even after their graduations or into his retirement.
His love of opening minds through education was complemented by his fondness for travel and adventure. Throughout his adult life, Errol explored as much of the globe as he could manage from Europe to Africa. Often, family members joined him, and his return was welcomed by nieces and nephews eager to hear his daring stories and receive the exotic gifts he selected for them.
Today, Errol's family carries on his dedication to finding a cure and helping those living with PD, including two cousins and Lynne's son. They look to MJFF for resources on living well and the advances being made toward a treatment to slow or stop Parkinson's. And they find solace in both their memories and the knowledge that Errol's legacy of generosity is propelling research progress.