At home one evening, I was checking my emails when I noticed an email from the World Parkinson’s Congress. As I am subscribed to their newsletter, I thought it was their latest one, but in fact the email was personal. As I read through it, I was initially shocked and surprised, so to absorb the information I read it a second time. As I digested the content, a feeling of happiness and humility washed over me. I had been asked if I would be interested in being an ambassador for the next World Parkinson’s Congress in Portland, Oregon in 2016. The email stated I had a week to consider the request and if I was interested to fill in the application form and return it to the email address provided. After getting over the initial shock, and thinking back to the last congress in Montreal, I knew what my answer would be.
Last October, I, along with 3000+ others attended the 3rd World Parkinson’s Congress in Montreal. It was a fantastic experience and one which will stay with me for a long time. Over the four days of the congress, I listened to many talks given by health professionals which gave me a lot of hope for the future treatment of Parkinson’s. Aside from the “educational” talks of the congress, there were also practical demonstrations on activities like singing, yoga and tai chi to name but a few. There was something there for everyone and during the congress, I was lucky enough to have met and talked with some truly inspirational people. I’m not talking about the People with Parkinson’s who undertake and achieve incredible feats despite living with this condition. These are remarkable people, but I’m talking about regular folk, who wake up every morning with a smile on their face. When I see these People with Parkinson’s, their carers or loved ones laughing, singing or even dancing, how can I not be moved to realise the potential of life, the potential we all possess to live our lives and be happy? These are the experiences that are truly life changing, the experiences that have stayed with me from Montreal and these are the experiences that I look forward to having in Portland in 2016.
With those thoughts in mind, I sat down to fill in the application confirming my interest in becoming an ambassador for the World Parkinson’s Congress in Portland 2016. I am very much looking forward to my role as ambassador as it will give me an opportunity to share my experiences of the last congress as well as encouraging those I meet to attend the next one. Rather than writing a list of reasons why one should go the next congress, let me simply say that in my experience, the benefits of attending such a congress far, far outweigh the effort and cost of getting there. In short, if you have any interest in Parkinson’s at all, the 4th World Parkinson’s Congress in Portland 2016 is one event you will not want to miss!