Breaking News
More () »

East TN teen spreads Parkinson's disease awareness through storytelling

Faith McGhee was inspired to make a change because of her love for her grandfather, who has had Parkinson's her whole life.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — After 17-year-old Faith McGhee graduated early from Oak Ridge High School, she sought out a new assignment—researching Parkinson's disease. 

McGhee interviewed doctors, caregivers and patients, chronicling their stories of the neurological disorder that steals a person's ability to move, eat and speak. 

McGhee has her own story to tell, as well. Her grandfather has suffered from Parkinson's her whole life. 

"The word I would use to describe him—it's just strong," McGhee said. "He's persevered through everything and he's always been there for me and I try to do the same for him now." 

McGhee helps her grandfather stand, brushes his teeth and makes his meals. She knows their time together is precious, especially after a recent choking scare. 

"I immediately called 911 and told them that he was choking. They explained the steps of how to do the Heimlich, and I gave him the Heimlich and he was able to cough it up and I actually saved his life," McGhee said. 

Then a bout with pneumonia brought another brush with death. That's when McGhee knew she had to stand up for her grandfather. 

"I wanted to get involved in volunteer work and try to make as much of a change as possible. That’s when I contacted the KiMe fund and they told me that I could volunteer for them," McGhee said. 

The KiMe fund is an East Tennessee non-profit dedicated to raising money to find a cure for Parkinson's disease. 

The KiMe fund tasked McGhee with a mission: The Blueprint 007 Interview Series. 

The interviews McGhee gathered will eventually land on the KiMe website as a source of information, education and inspiration. 

"Being in the KiMe fund has really just made me a lot more hopeful that there is a cure and there are ways to find it and there's so much research that's being done right now," McGhee said.

McGhee has one more hope—that her grandfather is proud.

"I hope that he understands that he is so important to me, and the reason I'm doing this is all because of him," McGhee said. "If it wasn't for him I would not be doing any of this." 

McGhee will be at the annual KiMe Shakin’ Not Stirred Parkinson’s Gala and Fundraiser on Jan. 28. You can find more information about the event here. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out