Feeling the need to do something for herself and others who suffer from the disease, Ray joined Parkinson’s Active Network, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., and since then, she’s united with a team of individuals who hope to raise awareness and find a cure.
“I’ve been active ever since the diagnosis to do whatever I can to find a cure or help with research, develop a support group and anything I can do,” she said.
Ray, 59, is an administrative assistant tutor with the Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s Literacy Program held at the Rome-Floyd County Library at the Language and Literacy Center. Prior to tutoring, Ray worked at Harbin Clinic as a patient representative but quit about a year after she was diagnosed with PD, as it was becoming difficult for her to concentrate and multitask. But she said she takes her medication diligently and manages well.
“I do have days when the meds don’t work,” Ray said. “However I keep telling myself that I will do better in a few days when the meds are working.”
PAN holds a forum every year in the District of Columbia. This year Ray was awarded a scholarship so she can attend this year’s forum, which takes place on Feb. 25-27.
“I am grateful for this scholarship,” Ray said. “It has given me the opportunity to join the PAN Forum to work in a unified group advocating for PD issues.”
The scholarship, she said, pays for her airfare up to Washington, her registration fees and even her travel expenses.
She will meet with key speakers for the conference on Feb. 23 who will bring her up to date on topics that sorely need to be addressed in the legislature.
PAN and its members, Ray said, are very active in contacting legislators regarding any proposed legislation that comes across Capitol Hill regarding research money and other key factors that could immensely help the Parkinson’s community.
“On Wednesday (Feb. 27), we actually go up on the Hill and they schedule appointments with different people from our districts, people all over the country, meet us there and we actually go in and speak with the congressmen.
“What we really need is a national registry like the cancer registry, because they never have a true number of people with Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease,” Ray added. “If they know the true number, then maybe we can get help with research dollars. That’s the real reason we go to PAN. It’s to know what we need to know in order to push and advocate for our issues.”
Ray is a member of a local PD support group led by James Trussel, and she is active in assisting with the annual Moving Day Walk. She’s also on the local PD Board of Directors and is active in assisting with the annual PD conference held in Atlanta. Ray is dedicated to spreading the word about PD and hopefully finding a cure.
“We want the community to hear that we need help,” she said. “We need people aware in the community about Parkinson’s disease because we have a community of Parkinson’s people and we don’t sit in our recliners. We exercise and get out and do things. We’re active, we’re in action.”