For nearly three years Microsoft exec Matt Lydon hid his tremors and kept his Parkinson’s disease (PD) diagnosis a secret, unsure of how his network would react and the impact it would have on his career. In August, the vice president of worldwide search advertising decided to share his diagnosis in a meeting with hundreds of his colleagues.
A recent story on the Microsoft site details the moment Matt announced that he has young-onset Parkinson’s disease:
The room fell silent. Stunned eyes filled with tears. Yet even amid the initial shock, recalls Search Advertising Business Director Sarah McGovern, “The first thing everybody said is, ‘How can I help? What can I do?’”
Almost immediately, his colleagues formed their answer by helping to speed a cure through fundraising and lending their time and expertise to MJFF and other Parkinson’s organizations.
They began by holding fundraisers for the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to serving the PD community in their home state of Washington.
The enthusiasm for supporting awareness and research efforts became infectious. In October, the Microsoft community raised $9,000 through a Team Fox fundraiser where employees took photos with a DeLorean, a real-life replica of the iconic Back to the Future time machine, to support The Michael J. Fox Foundation.
Matt recalls that when he was diagnosed, his immediate thoughts were of providing for his family and questions about his future. Since, he has been reinvigorated by taking action, saying, “Every year from now on is going to be tougher. When I got involved, I stopped focusing on the symptoms and the outcomes. I felt more energy, and I am healthier as a result.”
Through Matt’s leadership, employees are also working with MJFF to analyze its website and technical infrastructure to improve performance and speed. Furthermore, Matt has connected representatives of Bing with Foundation staff to help with their efforts to boost website traffic, such as search engine optimization (SEO).
Debi Brooks, MJFF co-founder and executive vice chairman, commented on how Microsoft’s support will improve the Foundation’s operations, “Getting this kind of in-kind consulting service and access to expertise can really have a big impact for us, given that technology isn’t our core business.”