Meet Care Partners and Families

How do you show someone with Parkinson’s that you care? Family and friends often rally around loved ones with Parkinson's, showing their support in a variety of ways. PDF recognizes these diverse contributions through “All the Ways Care Partners Care.”

Below we highlight four moving stories.

Elaine and Len Casavant
Lansing, MI

Ms. Casavant, R.N., is a retired nurse whose husband Len, lives with Parkinson’s. The couple's experiences coping with Len's diagnosis — for example, a delay in getting a correct diagnosis and a lack of adequate information and support from health professionals and pharmacists — motivated her to apply for a spot on PDF’s People with Parkinson’s Advisory Council. Along with her years of experience as a registered nurse, Ms. Casavant brings a commitment to education (she educates several PD support groups) and dedication to representing the needs of her fellow caregivers.

“Education is my passion. My role with PDF —the premier organization for education of the PD community — is an opportunity to give back, in some measure, the help PDF extended to me in a time of need. It is also a golden opportunity to give caregivers a voice at the table and make them actual stakeholders in PDF's mission,” says Ms. Casavant.
Hear More from Elaine

Maria De Leon, M.D.
Nacogdoches, TX

Dr. De Leon has a unique perspective on caring in Parkinson's disease. In fact, she first cared for her grandmother with Parkinson’s disease, then for her patients as a movement disorders neurologist, and now lives with Parkinson’s disease herself. Retired from her medical practice, she now shows she cares through advocacy and community education. She does this in part, by serving as a member of PDF’s People with Parkinson’s Advisory Council and as a volunteer PDF Research Advocate. She says her biggest accomplishment is helping PDF to think "outside the box" about unmet needs, such as women's issues and special needs of the Spanish-speaking community.

“Although my life took an unforeseen detour when I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, it only brought me closer to my true love – caring for others with Parkinson’s. I joined forces with PDF because it exhibits my same passion for helping people with PD. Though I can no longer work as a Parkinson's doctor, I have an even greater job doing everything I can to help steer Parkinson’s research toward a cure,” says Dr. De Leon.

Jane and Paul Gaydos
Cleveland, OH

Paul and Jane Gaydos have been married more than 47 years. Since Jane's diagnosis with Parkinson's disease more than five years ago, they have approached every part of Parkinson's disease as a team.  One way they do so is by serving together as PDF Research Advocates, and encouraging others to get involved in Parkinson's research. To prepare for this work, they applied as a team for a PDF volunteer training. Now, along with fellow advocates, they send out a regular newsletter about opportunities to participate in research in Northeast Ohio, and help to educate local support groups.

“Besides the help around the house that I provide, I am a partner in all of Janie’s activities or as I sometimes call myself, a 'cheerleader.'  As a team, we support and complement each others talents. This is especially true when it comes to research advocacy — working with PDF is an exciting new way for us to get the word out to the entire PD community about research," says Mr. Gaydos.

The Hardoby Family 
Rahway, NJ

The family of Greg Hardoby have all pitched in since his diagnosis with Parkinson's disease.  Mr. Hardoby is no stranger to supporting a loved one with Parkinson's disease — his late grandmother lived with Parkinson's disease.  Recently, when he wanted to make a difference by fundraising for PDF, his wife Maria, and their children Ann Marie and Alex, all helped to put together golf outing, Putt Fore Parkinson's, which raised more than $5,000.

“My mainstream of support comes from my wife and kids. Knowing I can lean on them (literally) lifts a big burden,” says Mr. Hardoby. “To fundraise for PDF, and advocate for PD awareness and research with them, gives me a purpose in something that is deeply personal. My main motivation is to share with others that they are not alone.”

See the Hardoby Family in the News