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Concord Student Works to Educate Public about Parkinsonís
- Apr 09 2013
By Lukas Johnson
For the past month, Noah Hartsock has been raising money for the Parkinson's Disease Foundation by selling ice cream during school lunch periods. He calls it "Cones for a Cure."
The Concord resident, a senior at Gray Stone Day School in Misenheimer, wants to raise $500 and is more than halfway to that goal. He also wants to raise awareness about the chronic and progressive movement disorder and already has hosted a school assembly on the subject.
Noah told teachers and peers the story of his grandfather, Roger Kendrick, who is one of nearly 1 million people in the US living with Parkinson's. The cause is unknown, and there is no cure, but medication and surgery help manage symptoms.
In his presentation, Noah talked about his grandpa's love of vintage cars and tractors. Noah told how he used to help in his grandparents' garden, where their strong work ethic rubbed off on him. His "Papaw," once an excellent marksman, also taught him how to hunt and to handle a gun safely.
But their favorite thing to do together was fishing.
"My grandfather was diagnosed with Parkinson's over five years ago," said Noah. "He was the man who taught me about the value of hard work and instilled in me a passion for helping others. I felt it necessary to learn more about Parkinson's in order to help my grandfather and others who are affected by the disease."
Attendance at his presentation was mandatory, but Noah jokingly said he held the audience's attention by offering candy as a prize to those who answered questions correctly at the end. His teachers praised his communication skills and said his sincerity about the topic also helped maintain the crowd's attention.
"I think my peers were very impressed with my presentation," said Noah. "They were pleasantly surprised at how I was able to present standard information in an interesting format. And when I questioned the students about the disease, I received a correct answer for each question."
Noah has seen first-hand the debilitating effects of the disease.
"Although Parkinson's is not deadly ... the disease is powerful, in that it destroys physical movement and degrades mental health," he said. "It is heartbreaking to see a strong person broken down by such a mysterious force."
Noah and the Gray Stone community took on the effort in partnership with the PDF Champions program. PDF Champions give their time and energy to raise money and awareness for the foundation in their communities.
Kendrick is known as a pillar of his rural Shelby community, said Noah's mom, Kim Hartsock. He donates and delivers produce from his garden to the elderly, and before he was diagnosed, people counted on him to repair odds and ends.
"It is difficult for all of us to watch such a spirited and active man, with so much left to give, become figuratively and literally paralyzed by disease," said Kim. "Although it is heartbreaking, it seems that this circumstance has given Noah, and the rest of our family, much-needed perspective about relationships and the people we love."
Noah's strength of character to look beyond himself and to strive to improve others' lives is what impresses Kim most.
"He seemed to enjoy the work involved in the fundraising, and since he loves public speaking, an oral presentation was right up his alley," she said.
Spreading awareness is only part of his effort.
"By raising funds, I'm able to give back to my grandfather and the people who share in his struggle," said Noah. "It also gives me an outlet to inspire others."
To learn more: For details about the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, visit pdf.org or call (800) 457-6676. To donate, visit Noah Hartsock's "PDF Champions" page at support.pdf.org or visit pdf.org/pdf_champion and search "Noah Hartsock."
Source Date: Apr 09 2013
Source Publication: The Charlotte Observer - Cabarrus News
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