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Participant Information

Michael O'Leary


I never could write anything until PD came along, now it just comes from the heart.


Today, I learned a valuable lesson. I did not learn it from a textbook, college professor, or a politician or a religious leader. It was learned from Samual Garrett Moore, my six-month-old nephew.

I was caring for Sammy while my sister and brother in law were working. It was my offer, not done out of necessity, but for fun and to spend time with my nephew, who I live a distance from and don't get the opportunity to see often.

I am also a Young-Onset person with Parkinson's disease, diagnosed at 43 years old, I am currently 47. The lesson that I learned was just how hard it must be to be a Young person with Parkinson's and have to raise young children. I have been a passionate advocate for people with Parkinson's, especially for Young-Onset, for the last approximately two years, since going on long term disability from the job that I held for over 20 years.

I never realized just how physically and emotionally draining it is to be a Person with Parkinson's and have to raise young children. On my day with Sammy, my medications were working pretty well, and I had minimal problems with "off time", and Sammy was being pretty good.

My left leg was a bit stiff and tremoring, but not enough to keep me from doing what I needed for my baby nephew, but then my condition is much less severe than many others. However it was still quite a challenge.

As I walked up and down the hall holding him and patting his back while he fought sleep, my emotions spilled out, picturing in my mind someone with symptoms much more severe, trying to do what I was doing day in and day out. I can't even imagine taking care of one baby full time, much less a family, while stricken with this demon.

I have gained a whole new respect for those who do, and at the same time was saddened to think that with proper funding and technology this and many other diseases can be stopped or cured.

Meanwhile, It appears to me that we are sending billions of dollars over seas, while deserving domestic issues go under-funded. This goes beyond my sense of reasoning. I have read heart-wrenching stories of parents who have, or are thinking of sending their children to live with relatives because they cannot financially or physically take care of them.

When I heard this, I could not believe a parent could do that, but then I did not realize how powerful this disease is until my six month old nephew opened my eyes. Thank you Samual Garrett Moore for a lesson learned.

Submitted by Michael O'Leary (diagnosed January 2002), 47 years old from Phoenix, Arizona
-Arizona State Coordinator for The Parkinson's
Action Network
-2005 NPF/YOPN Committee Chair
-Sammy's favorite Uncle (In my opinion)