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Huntsville Woman with Parkinson's Will Hike across Grand Canyon to Raise Funds for Foundation

By Amethyst Holmes

Some people may choose to celebrate their 40th birthday with cake and a cocktail, but not Jennifer Neathery.

Neathery, who was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson's disease at age 32, will celebrate her birthday by hiking more than 40 miles across the Grand Canyon on Monday to raise funds for the Parkinson's Disease Foundation.

She and her husband, Billy, will start their 12-hour hike at the Bright Angel Trail and travel across the canyon from rim to rim to rim.

After running a marathon last year in Nashville, Neathery said she wanted to do something "bigger" and chose to challenge herself by hiking.

"I love the outdoors so I thought it would just be a great way to not only experience the Grand Canyon, but a great thing to do to raise awareness about Parkinson's disease and show people that it doesn't have to be a limiting or debilitating disease," Neathery said.

Neathery said she led an active lifestyle before she was diagnosed with Parkinson's seven years ago, but didn't become an avid runner or start hiking until after diagnosis. She said she's kept a positive state of mind about her illness by not letting fatigue, tremors, or any other symptoms of her disorder bother her and by making a conscious decision to beat the disease "day by day".

"I feel amazing. I feel like I wanted to feel before I had Parkinson's. I try not to let it stop me as much as possible and I try not to focus on it every day. I just try to think about all the things that I can do and the fact that it's a privilege to even go for a run," Neathery said.

"It's really about finding what makes you feel good, wrapping your head around that, and living that way every day."

While working as an advocate for the foundation, Neathery has raised $1,125 and is steadily approaching her fundraising goal of $2,000 for Parkinson's disease research.

Learn more about Neathery's fundraising and advocacy efforts at support.pdf.org/Jennifer.

Source Date: Apr 05 2013
Source Publication: Huntsville Times
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