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Moweaqua Women Participates in Parkinson's Quilt Project for World Congress

MOWEAQUA - A stitch in time, so the old proverb goes, saves nine.

But maybe it can save a lot more than that. Especially if you are busy sewing away on a panel for a giant quilt that you probably never will get to touch when completed but hope, nonetheless, that it will touch the lives of countless others.

The Parkinson's Quilt Project is designed to draw attention to the debilitating brain disease by collecting 2-foot-by-2-foot panels contributed by sufferers and their loved ones from all over the world. Organized by the New York-based Parkinson's Disease Foundation, the project will piece together the quilt by having groups of 16 panels, all heavy with symbolic designs, sewn into individual 8-foot "blocks."

And then the whole quilt - no one knows yet how big it will get - is going to be displayed at the World Parkinson Congress in Glasgow, Scotland, from Sept. 28 through Oct. 1.

When the congress is over, the various quilt blocks will be made available for viewing at events and fundraisers connected with the disease and its more than 4 million sufferers worldwide. So maybe local quilters such as Kathleen Broaddus of Moweaqua will one day get to see their sewn panels united in a greater whole, or maybe not. Broaddus, 54, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's at 49, said what matters is the chance to take part.

Her colorful panel is full of meaning, honoring the Decatur Parkinson's Support Group, to which she belongs. The panel is framed by the words "Care, Share, Hope, Learn," which Broaddus said mirrors much of what goes on in the monthly support group meetings at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Decatur.

At the center of the panel is a starlike pattern with radiating points flying off in different directions like a compass rose. Broaddus said this image hints at the chaos of the disease and the way it touches different lives, moving in different directions. Central colors of red and blue represent the disease and the support group; the red symbolizing the force that disrupts lives and the calm shade of blue standing for the effort to pull them back together.

The corners of the quilt are anchored by the tulip logo of the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, wrapped in stylized "PD" letters for the name of the disease.

"I am very proud of it; I like the way it turned out," said Broaddus, who spent six weeks making the quilt. She added that Parkinson's-related muscle tremors don't make sewing the easy pastime it once was. She sees the struggle to get the quilt done like the struggle to coexist with her disease. "Just got to have the determination to go ahead and live your life and not just sit around and wallow in your misery," she said.

"That's why I wanted to honor our support group; it's something to look forward to every month. And it's not gloom and doom at the meetings; it's about hope."

Fellow quilter Audrey Sanner, who lives in Decatur, is pinning her hopes on finding a cure for the condition that slowly ate away at her late husband, James. A strapping 6-foot-3 man who weighed 190 pounds in his prime, he was wasted down to a feeble 110 pounds when complications from Parkinson's claimed his life at the age of 82 in 2008.

A certified public accountant who loved music, one quilt panel sewn by his devoted wife features two big musical notes on a musical score background with pictures of the cornet and piano her husband liked to play. "We Will Find A Cure For Parkinson's" floats in red letters above the cornet.

The instruments are actual photographs transferred to the material, and Sanner used the same technique for a second panel that uses five images charting the course of her husband's life. The first shows him as a World War II soldier, hat cocked at a jaunty angle, then we move on through their wedding picture in 1948 and then to one of him looking trim and relaxed on a visit to California in 1993. Parkinson's symptoms, however, already had started.

"He first showed them around age 65," Sanner said. "Medicines helped for a while, but they soon quit doing any good. He had done pretty well, and we were still traveling until about 1995, and after that he was in a wheelchair and falling and breaking bones and in and out of the hospital and nursing home. Jim was a strong, handsome man, and he just wasted away."

One of the final pictures shows him lying in bed as his wife holds his hand, the frail man in the photograph hard to reconcile with the image of the same man just 15 years earlier. Another picture shows his well-kept grave.

"Parkinson's is just such a sad disease," she added. "I really hope they will find a cure."

treid@herald-review.com|421-7977


Note from PDF: PDF is accepting submissions for the Parkinson's Quilt Project until June 2010.  To find out more, visit http://support.pdf.org/quilt.

Source Date: May 19 2010
Source Publication: Herald & Review (Illinois)
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