SACKETS HARBOR Norman L. Hunneyman was not too surprised when he was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease two years ago. What surprised him was the number of people who knew little about the illness.
To promote Parkinsons disease awareness, Mr. Hunneyman has organized a walk from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Market Square Park.
Registration begins at 9 a.m. at the bandstand. The inaugural walk, in which participants can choose a 1.5- or 4.8-mile trail, is free, but any donations will go to the National Parkinson Foundation for research.
Theres not very much awareness about it, said Mr. Hunneyman, Sackets Harbor. I started to walk very slowly. I had to ask my wife to wait for me. Then, I went through a period of time where I was very fatigued.
After his diagnosis, he also started taking medication for depression because there is no pill for Parkinsons.
Mr. Hunneyman said he believes there are people who have those symptoms but have not yet gone to a doctor for diagnosis.
According to information he received from the National Parkinson Foundation, there are 1 million people nationwide living with the disease. An additional 60,000 will be diagnosed this year.
Probably, there are at least one to three people in each community in Northern New York, when looking at the numbers, he said.
Mr. Hunneyman said that he meets with support groups at Salmon Run Mall, Watertown, and the parish center at All Saints Catholic Church, Chaumont, and that he believes it is important to interact with others who have the disease. The groups provide a support system and give helpful tips, such as regimenting the day, to make life with the debilitating illness easier.
Mr. Hunneyman said he worries that some people can become overwhelmed by their diagnosis or refuse to go to a doctor because theyre afraid to find out what they have.
Although he is getting pointers from the National Parkinson Foundation, he said, the walk was a grassroots effort.
The mayor gave us a proclamation stating Saturday as Parkinsons Awareness Day, Mr. Hunneyman said.
Refreshments will be available at the walk. Mr. Hunneyman said he hopes more than 200 people will attend, but he has no fundraising goal.
All were going to do is do our best to have a good walk, he said. Whatever the day brings, the day brings.
For more information, call the Sackets Harbor Visitors Center at 646-2321.