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Cobb Man to Honor Stepfather, Raise Awareness of Parkinson's Disease

By Davia L. Mosley,

When Kennesaw resident Sean Wright hits the road to run in the 37th annual Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday in Washington, D.C., it will have a two-fold purpose. He will be raising money for the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation and honoring his stepfather, Gary Chard, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s four years ago.

Wright is a former Marine sergeant serving in the Navy Reserves. He grew up in Delaware and was stationed in Marietta. He said getting the news about his stepfather’s disease left him in shock.

“With any disease like that, I’m trying to find out more about it, ”Wright said. “A disease like that doesn’t have a cure. It’s just difficult, not knowing what to expect. It’s been a learning experience.”

Wright said Chard had been experiencing symptoms such as tremors that prompted the doctor’s visit. Additional doctor’s visits and tests confirmed that it was Parkinson’s.

These days, Wright said his stepfather is exploring natural medicines and a healthier diet. For example, Chard’s longtime high blood pressure has lessened because of a change in his eating habits.

“He’s been doing pretty good lately,” Wright said. “He’s interested in newer, more natural-type things. He’s visited some doctors up north, trying to use more vitamins. He is also involved in studies at the University of Delaware. He’s trying a lot of different things to mitigate some of the symptoms.”

Wright’s mother, Beth Ann, and stepfather became involved with the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. At his mother’s suggestion, Wright found himself signing up for the Marine Corps Marathon. Although he never had any intention of running a marathon, Wright said he didn’t hesitate saying yes.

“It’s for a great cause,” he said. Wright began training in May. He ran regularly for exercise — 2 to 3 miles for two to three days a week — but increased his frequency to prepare for the marathon. During the height of the summer months, he ran 35 to 40 miles weekly. He reached 500 miles over the course of his training.

Of the marathon, he said, “I don’t have many lofty goals as far as time. My goal from the start is just to put the work in so I can get out there and finish the race.”

Wright’s team consists of four other runners, all representing the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. Each runner committed to raising $2,000, but Wright is aiming for $5,000. To date, Wright’s family and friends have raised more than $2,800. His support page is

Beth Ann and Gary were married in 2007. Wright said although his stepfather didn’t raise him, he still looks to him as a role model, values his opinion and looks to him for advice on life and any other issues he might be facing.

“Our relationship gets stronger and stronger as time goes on,” Wright said. “The big thing behind it all is just raising awareness for Parkinson’s. It’s something that affects a lot more people than it is probably realized. There are ways for people to get involved. The (Parkinson’s Disease Foundation) website has great literature and ways for people to get involved.”

Chard said he is flattered by his stepson’s willingness to run in his honor.

“I was impressed when Sean proposed his participation in joining the PDF Team for the Marine Corps Marathon. His appreciation of my condition and his desire to call attention to the cause of educating people about Parkinson’s means a lot to me,” Chard said. “Sean’s determination and commitment are symbolic of his nature. Taking on this challenge is just another fine example of what some of today’s young adults are truly about — concern for their future and the futures of the senior generation, as well as trying to raise awareness for issues that may affect his generation as the years progress.”

For more information about the race and Parkinson’s, visit, call (800) 457-6676 or email

Source Date: Oct 22 2012
Source Publication: Marietta Daily Journal
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