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Parkinson’s disease coalition begins in Sackets Harbor

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SACKETS HARBOR — Approximately 20,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease every year in the United States.

Norman L. Hunneyman organized the North Country Coalition for Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders because he knows the fear people face when they are diagnosed.

After all, he was diagnosed with the neurological disorder three years ago.

“Parkinson’s is one of those neurological disorders that doesn’t have a silver bullet,” Mr. Hunneyman said.

The coalition is a recognized nonprofit group through the Sackets Harbor Area Cultural Foundation and was started after Mr. Hunneyman’s inaugural walk to promote Parkinson’s awareness in September.

“We had such poor weather that day, but we raised $3,000 with the walk,” he said.

Because April is National Parkinson’s Awareness Month, the coalition is inviting surgical neurophysiologist Michael E. Hopkins from Philadelphia, Pa., to speak about how to live with the disease. There is no admission fee for the seminar, to be held from 10 a.m. to noon April 20 at St. Andrew’s Church, 12 E. Main St.

“This seminar is going to be very beneficial because Dr. Hopkins has done a lot of research in the field,” Mr. Hunneyman said.

A caregivers seminar is being planned for the fall.

The group is planning various fundraisers, including another Parkinson’s Awareness Walk, throughout the year to help keep the seminars free.

“We’re grass-roots,” Mr. Hunneyman said. “We don’t have a national or state organization helping us.”

He said the nonprofit status makes raising awareness different from how it was in the past.

“This is much more formalized, and we have a brochure now,” he said. “We have programs laid out for the future. We have to look ahead for months.”

To donate to the coalition, send a check to the North Country Coalition for Parkinson’s, P.O. Box 82, Sackets Harbor, N.Y. 13685. For more information about the coalition or future seminars, call Mr. Hunneyman at 646-3446.

“I want to always say to people that you need hope, and don’t give up,” he said. “Don’t let the illness frighten you.”

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