April is Parkinson's Awareness Month, a disease that garnered a lot more attention after the actor Michael J. Fox shared his diagnosis in 1991.

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April is Parkinson's Awareness Month, a disease that garnered a lot more attention after the actor Michael J. Fox shared his diagnosis in 1991.

PK Hope is Alive is hosting a fundraiser Saturday at Bissell Park in Oak Ridge. Registration starts at 9:00. Walk from 10:00 to noon. Emily Stroud and Jim Martin

A West Knox County family is very familiar with this disease with no cure.

Jim Bowman still lives at home but he needs constant care from his wife Gloria and home health aids. Jim has stage five Parkinson's.

"I had always thought that Parkinson's meant you shook. And it does with a lot of people. But that is just the very very tip of the iceberg. It is such a debilitating disease," Gloria Bowman said.

Gloria had to research Parkinson's to be an advocate for Jim, especially when they tried to find the best combination of medicine with the most appropriate dosage.

"I started really looking, Googling everything I could find about Parkinson's, talking to everybody that I could find to talk to and learning more and more about the illness," she said.

She found possible symptoms of the progressive neurological disease: slowness of movement, balance issues, rigidity, swallowing problems, speech problems... the list goes on.

Jim's medicine helped control his symptoms for awhile but the Bowmans had to give up their active lifestyle.

"We used to do white water rafting, hike to Mt. LeConte, ride our bicycles for miles, travel a lot. We were very social. We had a lot of friends and a lot of social activities and as the illness has progressed, all of that is gone," she said.

She's in a support group called PK Hope is Alive that brings in speakers and brings together people caring for those with Parkinson's.

"It's easier to cope if you know, hey, this is normal. He's not doing that to be annoying. He's doing that because he's sick," she said.

The group supports research for a cure and earlier detection as well as awareness.

"It's not like cancer where you can go and have a test and they say this is what you have. It's kind of done by the process of elimination," she said.

PK Hope is Alive will raise money with a walk this weekend. Gloria hopes you will go to support the organizations trying to improve the lives of people like Jim.

The Parkinson's Walk in Oak Ridge this Saturday morning will raise awareness and raise funds for research. Registration starts at 9:00 then the walk is from 10:00 to noon at Bissell Park in Oak Ridge.

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