Russ Dawson, who is relatively new to PFNCA, recently sat down and shared some information about himself and PFNCA.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a fifth generation Washingtonian. I enjoyed a 40-year career in media communications, first as a journalist (ten years), public affairs director of a small professional organization (two years), press secretary and strategic communications assistant to an EPA Administrator (seven years), and partner of a mid-size public affairs company specializing in energy and the environment (21 years).
When were you diagnosed with Parkinson’s?
I was diagnosed in 2008, but started showing symptoms a couple of years earlier. The presumption is that the Parkinson’s resulted from exposure to Agent Orange as a Marine Corps infantryman in Vietnam in 1968.
How long have you been involved with PFNCA?
I’m in my second year. I was surfing the Web and discovered the foundation. I was attracted immediately by its focus on practical and accessible education and training throughout the national capital region. I participate in the exercise program in Chevy Chase, D.C.
You participated in Walk Off Parkinson’s last year. Tell us your strategy for raising funds and getting others involved.
I’ve never been involved in a fundraising campaign and got a late start as a first-year member. So, I didn’t raise anywhere near what some others did, but was pleased to make a modest contribution. I enjoyed speaking with friends and others and asking them to support my important fundraising efforts for PFNCA. I’m hoping to generate more money and in-kind resources this year by raising PFNCA’s visibility through local media. Journalists are always looking for human faces to put on complex stories. We have those faces.
What would you tell someone who was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s and has not yet participated in a PFNCA program to encourage them them to try it?
I’d tell them my personal story an d invite them to come with me to watch [PFNCA Program Instructor] Kim Brooks lead a couple of dozen men and women in all stages of Parkinson’s with helpful exercises combining energy, passion, and good humor.
Walk Off Parkinson’s will be held September 24th at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. You can learn more by clicking here.