When Nicole Jarvis, 44, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD) in her late thirties, she immediately began searching for a way to get involved. As a physician, she was drawn to understanding the scientific side of the disease and her symptoms. Moreover, as a local Norman, Oklahoma resident, she was determined to raise the profile of Parkinson's in her community and to increase resources to support patients' quality of life -- particularly for the estimated 15,000 people with PD in her home state.
In 2011, Nicole connected with The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) and our grassroots fundraising community, Team Fox. She and her annual Winter Gala, now in its sixth year, were recently spotlighted in her hometown newspaper, the Norman Transcript.
In the feature, she recalls planning the first gala, hoping to host 50 people and raise $10,000. She rocketed past that goal, bringing together 300 people and raising $100,000. According to Nicole, "It kind of snowballed from there." Last year, the Winter Gala crossed the lifetime $1 million Team Fox fundraising mark, and the 2017 event, held December 14, gathered 600 attendees and has raised over $300,000 -- $100,000 coming in that evening from live and silent auctions -- for critical Parkinson's research efforts.
The Norman Transcript piece also highlights the vigorous work Nicole does on the ground to expand care services and education for the PD community in Oklahoma, many of whom do not live close to major research centers. In 2013, she founded the Nicole Jarvis, M.D., Parkinson's Research Foundation, which helps bring physical and voice therapy, exercise programs and even dance to patients and families in the state. Nicole also serves on the MJFF Patient Council, a group of advisors who help forge connections between the Foundation and the patient community.
Despite all she does to propel research toward a cure, Nicole appreciates the caring and support she experiences from the PD community and her own family the most. Says her nephew Jack, 12, "Not too many people have aunts that are trying to cure diseases worldwide."