Ursuline Sister Mary McDermott has received many free materials from the National Parkinson Foundation since she was diagnosed with the disease in 2010.
“I’ve always wanted to give something back to the Parkinson Foundation,” she said. On June 10, 2017, she took advantage of the opportunity.
Sister Mary, who has been an Ursuline Sister for 38 years, took part in the first Moving Day Walk for Parkinson’s at Louisville’s Waterfront Park. Sister Mary is already making plans to attend in 2018.
“I walked a little over one mile. It was too hot to walk the 5K,” she said. “Several sisters sponsored me. I raised $175 and am continuing to take donations.”
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder, which nearly one million people in the United States have. Michael J. Fox and the late Muhammad Ali are two of the most famous people to battle Parkinson’s disease.
The walkers had signs on their back naming who they were walking for. Sister Mary’s sign said “Me,” but she said she also was walking for the other Ursuline Sisters who’ve suffered with Parkinson’s.
“As a postulant, I delivered trays to the infirmary,” she said. “Sister Edwardine Murphy and Sister Isadore Brown both had Parkinson’s, they were across the hall from each other. That was my first experience.”
The Louisville program was held at the Muhammad Ali Center, and the keynote speaker was Rasheda Ali-Walsh, Muhammad Ali’s daughter. Sister Mary got to speak with her after her talk.
“Her message was to keep moving and be hopeful,” Sister Mary said. “She talked a lot about her father.”
“She knew nothing about Parkinson’s until her children started asking about their grandfather,” Sister Mary said. “Parkinson’s had been a part of her life since she was a teenager.”
Muhammad Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1984. Inspired by her children’s questions, Ali-Walsh wrote “I’ll Hold Your Hand So You Won’t Fall: A Child’s Guide to Parkinson’s Disease.”
On the elevator June 9, Sister Mary rode with George Ali, Muhammad’s brother, who also suffers from Parkinson’s, she said.
To learn more about Parkinson’s disease and how to donate, visit the Parkinson Foundation website at www.parkinson.org.