On Wednesday, April 25, the United States Senate officially recognized April 2018 as Parkinson's Awareness Month, bringing attention to the 1 million individuals living with the disease and the impact it has on families and communities.
All month long, passionate advocates across the country took action, encouraging their state and local lawmakers to issue proclamations recognizing this month in their own cities and states.
Idaho Falls advocate Joe Prophet understands the importance of awareness, and works in his community -- and across the state of Idaho -- to educate the public and his policymakers on the needs of people living with Parkinson's disease (PD).
"Being an advocate is important work because it helps put a face on a disease people have heard about, but don't always know too much about," said Prophet, who was diagnosed with PD in 2012.
Upon Joe's request, Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper worked with the city council to declare April 2018 Parkinson's Awareness Month in Idaho Falls. KPVI-TV (NBC) was at the proclamation ceremony to highlight Joe's work and spread the word about Parkinson's. View the full news story.
Joe attended the Parkinson's Policy Forum in Washington, D.C. in March, and said the energy of the event made him want to do even more back home in Idaho.
"Reaching out to senators and representatives in Congress is important, but getting in touch with local leaders in our cities and towns makes a big difference, and it shouldn't be ignored," said Prophet. "It took a lot of relationship building to be able to reach out to local elected officials like our mayor, and that hard work paid off in getting this proclamation," he added.
Joe's efforts spotlight how advocacy work can provide communities with a personal look at Parkinson's disease, and can help educate others on the role our government plays in supporting people with Parkinson's and their loved ones.
To date, PD advocates around the United States have worked with elected officials to secure nearly 20 proclamations recognizing April as Parkinson's Awareness Month in their towns and states.
Interested in helping your lawmakers learn more about the PD community? Check out the Foundation's advocacy page for more information.