The following story appeared in our Fall/Winter 2020 edition of The Fox Focus on Parkinson’s newsletter. For this story and more, download the full edition.
For Shyam and his wife Nalini Parikh, of West New York, New Jersey, a trip to India revealed the symptoms of a disease Shyam was already familiar with. Both his uncle and brother had been living with Parkinson’s, but he never thought it could happen to him.
Nalini remembers, “Shyam was trying to sign some papers. At the time, his signature was so small, but now it looked like ants crawling on a paper. And through the whole trip, he kept complaining that he had difficulty sleeping.” But it was his son’s words that resonated with Shyam when he stepped off the plane, back in the United States. “Papa, something is wrong. Your hands are shaking too much.”
After encouragement from his family, he went for a first and second opinion with neurologists. Shyam was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at age 72. After a time of questions and uncertainty, he turned his attention to educating himself about research and navigating the disease. Shyam knew The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) by name — in fact, he had given donations in honor of his uncle 15 years prior. But he wanted to learn and do more. The more he read about Parkinson’s and the Foundation, the more he realized he wanted to share his investments with an organization that was on the forefront of research.
A Giving Spirit
“After my diagnosis, I was going to give an outright donation. But then the idea of a charitable gift annuity came from my tax accountant,” said Shyam. “He told me, ‘why do you want to just give a donation? An annuity to a charitable organization can benefit you.’”
Charitable gift annuities are a popular investment choice for their relative simplicity and their immediate benefits. For Shyam and Nalini, a charitable gift annuity involved a standard contract where they agreed to make a gift to MJFF — part of which is used immediately for research, and the other part is invested. In return, and from this investment, the Foundation will pay the Parikhs a fixed amount each year for the rest of their lives. This type of gift also qualifies them for a variety of tax benefits, including a federal income tax charitable deduction when itemized.
With a gift like this, MJFF furthers our work toward more breakthroughs in research. And the Parikhs can build a legacy of giving that their family can be proud of to help bring an end to Parkinson's. “When I came to this country, I came with only $8 in my pocket. And I’ve been reasonably successful in my life,” says Shyam. “I wanted to do and give more, and Parkinson’s gave me that purpose. And I know The Michael J. Fox Foundation will help me do that.”