Category: Appreciation


Left to right:
Melanie Giles, Marie Lucey, Dr. Stephanie Bissonnette, Linda Hall (Parkinson’s Fitness co-founder), Anne Muskopf, Stephanie Recchia

With location hosting once again provided by the Danvers Community YMCA and their friendly, helpful staff and volunteers – with additional event assistance from YMCA Outreach Director Suzanne Malach – all was in readiness on September 14th for welcoming the 123-plus audience participants, 5 speakers, and 16 education exhibitors,  to our “Living Well with Parkinson’s: Building Resilience Foundations” symposium!

Five engaging guest speakers offered guidance about how to live stronger and create and maintain enjoyable, safe ways of everyday living.

Geriatric Medical Social Worker and keynote speaker, Stephanie Recchia, described resilience in terms related to searching within and beyond one’s self and discovering how past experiences and even personality traits affect adaptability to living with life-changing prolonged illness. She stressed the need for creating an interdisciplinary medical team, as well as strong family and peer support. Stephanie’s insightful remarks transitioned into how to re-create (or start) building strong inner foundations that help promote experiences of happiness and productivity.

Dr. Stephanie Bissonnette from the Boston Medical Center and BU School of Medicine focused on neurology. Marie Lucey from the Center for Balance, Mobility and Wellness at Gordon College addressed the importance of physical therapy. Melanie Olson Giles from the Speech Therapy Group in Beverly spoke about maintaining strong vocal communication capabilities and safe swallowing therapies. Anne Muscopf from the Jewish Family & Children’s Service Parkinson’s Family Support Program presented ways of creating activities of everyday lifestyle adaptations, as well as the potential use of assistive devices when necessary.

Parkinson’s Fitness instructors:
left: Dianna Daly, Balance in Motion
right: Kim Crowley, Strength & Conditioning

Once again, Parkinson’s Fitness instructors Dianna Daly (Balance in Motion) and Kim Crowley (Strength & Conditioning), joined by class substitute Sally Zagnoli, had EVERYONE moving and stretching to the lively music they’d chosen to showcase how even five minutes of movement a day can “wake up” anyone’s body! Click here to read more about our instructors and again here for weekly class locations and times in six nearby communities.

We couldn’t provide these educational symposiums without the support of our generous sponsors, participation by willing and wonderful speakers and their, as well as other, dedicated organizations who are helping to create the best possible life-management and healthy-living programs for all who live with Parkinson’s.


Ending with the words of online Parkinson’s News Today columnist and fellow Parkinsonian, Sherri Woodbridge, author of Journeying through Parkinson’s Disease:

  “…Hope brings purpose back into view. It shuts out the “what-ifs” and turns down the dial of doubt. It disables the feelings of despair, enables you to have a confident expectation of a cure, finds the blessings in the curse, and faith for a brighter future.”




Who IS this??

He is Janus, the mythological god of endings and beginnings, of gateways and doorways…a fitting symbol for the first month of a new year, as we say good-bye to 2017 and usher in 2018.

The familiar “Dear Abby” titled her advice in this New Year’s Day local newspaper, “Make the Most of a New Year by Taking One Day at a Time”. Following are brief excerpts from what she wrote, stating that the original and often requested New Year’s Resolutions were adapted from the original Al-Anon credo...wise and inspirational thoughts for all of us. Let us accept this New Year as would Janus…looking back at many lessons learned and forward toward another chance for a new beginning.

Just for today: I will live through THIS DAY ONLY. I will not brood about yesterday or obsess about tomorrow. I will set goals but not try to overcome all of my problems at once.”

Just for today: I will be happy. I will not dwell on thoughts that depress me.”

Just for today: I will improve my mind. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.”

Just for today: I will make a conscious effort to be agreeable. I will be kind and courteous to those who cross my path, and I’ll not speak ill of others. I will improve my appearance and refrain from improving anybody but myself.”

Just for today: I will do something positive to improve my health. I will gather the courage to do what is difficult but right, and I will take responsibility for my own actions.”


We had THE most incredible evening together on October 19th at our third annual fundraiser to help our programs continue!

One hundred-plus people gathered with us at the Danversport Yacht Club to share three hours of happy conversations, dancing and singing to the fantastic music provided by The MERJ – you missed a great mini “flash-mob” sequence secretly choreographed to “Signed, Sealed, and Delivered” by two of our very popular instructors, Dianna Daly and Kim Crowley, and some of their class members. The food was delicious and the silent auction and raffle items drew a lot of attention…thank you, donors and buyers!

And if you EVER hear that The MERJ band is playing near you, GO enjoy them! They are amazing and have music for every taste!

We’ll have photos to post soon, courtesy of our new friend, Lucas, a student from Endicott College in Beverly whose minor is in photography and who stepped forward to help us make memories when the photographer we’d recruited couldn’t come at the last minute! We’re looking forward to seeing his pictures and hopefully building a new relationship with him and creating future photos and videos of our classes!

As always, co-founder Linda Hall was on board tirelessly coordinating every detail. Her personal team of friends, led by Mary Orne, monitored the check-in and check-out tables and the databases of names…a huge undertaking they’ve handled for all three annual fundraisers! Keith Soper, artistic friend of the Hall’s, created the fundraiser invitation, and Jen Gonyea from Clarity Collaborative helped with all the necessary electronic communications to draw attention to the importance for holding the fundraiser. Co-founder, Keith Hall, was once again welcoming in his blend of humor and sincerity. Two Boston University/Sargent College rehabilitation specialists – Tami Deangelis and Teresa Baker – joined in with remarks about the work they perform and Keith’s participation in so many of their programs. Volunteer friend Marilyn Freeman read a poem she wrote and dedicated to Linda and Keith, and for anyone challenged with Parkinson’s or other life challenges:

When a New Day Dawns

For Keith and Linda Hall, who are the seekers, the listeners, and the singers of hope

Day comes again,
lighting a road still unmapped.
My mind joins dawn’s journey and I start to feel trapped.
Where can I go to escape words I’ve heard said
that shout their uncertainties so loud in my head?

The hands on the clock mimic my heart’s pulsing beat,
and the doctor’s diagnosis in my head still repeats.
How can I move toward a future when the deck is so stacked
with my questions unanswered – and often unasked?

I suppose I could just lie here,
willing off the obvious becoming now clear
that I’ll need to live a “different” life.
But who maps the way? Doctor, husband, family, wife?
I like my existence now, with its ups and its downs;
and I surely don’t want to feel somehow bound
to wondering if “Hope is the thing with feathers”,
will it sing songs for me?
Or will the changes scare away Hope’s bird,
leaving me doubts I wish I could free?

No one understands these thoughts – except for those who do.
It’s a see-saw of retreating – but then searching for the clues
for facing unknown tomorrows and seeking out the voices
that still sing through the storms and offer new choices.
Be a listener or be the bird who sings
Hope’s promise to self – and for others who cling
to their strengths oft’ forgotten – or yet still unknown –
tell them…
“I’m like you, friend, and you’re not alone.”

October 19th was an evening that will be long remembered…and appreciated…by everyone on the Parkinson’s Fitness team. Thank you to all!


Searching for meaningful words in celebration of the upcoming Fourth of July, we offer these thoughts and ask, regardless of your political views about the incredible amount of unrest throughout the world, that you take some quiet time away from everything and honestly consider whether you would really want to live anywhere else and still expect to have the freedoms with which we are blessed.

 “Let’s take a break from complaining about America to celebrate America.” – anonymous

Ten Marks of A GOOD CITIZEN – (author unknown)

  1. Well-informed on local and world affairs.
  2. Courteous, unselfish, friendly – gets along well with others – is a good neighbor.
  3. Sincere, dependable, and takes an active part in a religious community of personal choice.
  4. Appreciates what others have done and accepts responsibility for the future betterment of the community.  
  5. Is fair and just in relations with others.
  6. Obeys the laws of the community and nation.
  7. Votes regularly and intelligently at election time – and respects the choices of others.
  8. Is interested in the freedom and welfare of all of the world’s peoples and takes part in securing them.
  9. Is productive and renders a worthwhile service to his fellow man.
  10. Sets a good example to the youth of the community.


That’s right…92 adults and children attended our April 2nd mini-fundraiser at the Sunnyside Bowladrome in Danvers! They came in support of their family members and friends who live with the multifaceted challenges of a Parkinson’s diagnosis. We were delighted to have several participants from our exercise, movement, yoga and music classes come to support the programs they attend (including instructor Kim Crowley from our Beverly and Salem classes and community supporter Suz Malach from the Danvers Community YMCA!), especially because April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month around the world. Who better to be awareness ambassadors than those proving the importance of staying as active as possible while fighting back against a relentlessly tough medical condition!

Good-natured teasing, lots of gutter balls (this writer can attest to too many of her own!), and the friendly conversations shared amid the cheers and jeers and moans and groans heard from the lanes, were topped off by enjoying ice cream sundaes generously provided by Treadwell’s Ice Cream community programming in Peabody.

The supportive spirit from everyone who attended and contributed will help us sustain the quality programs we do our best to offer throughout the North Shore. (Click here to view a schedule of class locations and times.) Thank you to co-founders Linda and Keith Hall for continuing your mission…your Parkinson’s awareness commitment goes far beyond just one month out of the year!



For ten years, the Marblehead Parkinson’s support group was honored to have as one of its most beloved members a man we referred to as “Captain” Cobbett (a/k/a Bill Cobbett, a long-standing Swampscott, MA resident and former biology teacher at Marblehead High School). He was fond of writing poetry and dedicated this one titled “The Journey” to his fellow support group friends. Bill passed unexpectedly in May of 2012 – a huge loss to all who knew him. In his memory, during this April’s Parkinson’s Awareness Month, we offer his warm message to you…

The Journey
~ Bill Cobbett ~

Ulysses’ journey – the Odyssey – took ten long years to do.
Our trip may take much longer, but with hope we’ll see it through.
Ulysses found that his odyssey had problems along the way,
and all of us on our journeys work through trials that come each day.

For some of us, the odyssey is slowly gaining speed.
But most of you will miss this trip – one you neither want nor need.
Ulysses solved his problems in ways only he could do.
We too will conquer challenges with help from a supportive crew.

This trip is different from those we took in days long ago and passed.
There seems no way of knowing just how long the journey will last.
As yet, we’re not quite sure just what we’ll do and learn,
or when PD finally has a cure, to where we will return.

Unlike a tourist on a trip who sees what a tourist sees,
We’re like sailors on changing seas, at the whim of an ocean breeze.
This journey wasn’t planned by us as to what we’ll learn and do.
The life you’ll have – and how to live it – is entirely up to you.

Parkinson’s will, one day, be cured with work and time…
And hope can make life brighter, as it strides the horizon line.
Together we’ll find our bearings
to chart a course that’s true…
and that success, to a large extent, will come from support –
like that I’ve found in you!

 William Cobbett
Swampscott, MA resident
Husband, father, grandfather, gardener, flower arranger, poet, wood carver,
friend and source of encouragement to all who knew him.
Marblehead Parkinson’s support group member
Passed from our lives in May, 2012


Our dear friend, Winnie, proves over and over again the wisdom of this quote from C. S. Lewis:

“You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.”

In her 80’s, Winnie participates in our fitness programs at the Danvers COA (almost always twice a week!), the Danvers YMCA, and at the Hamilton COA, too! She was a practicing member of our therapeutic drumming sessions where we also learned a West African Gahu dance, and currently she and her husband sing with our “Shake-It-Up Singers” music group in Beverly!

A quiet member, Winnie always has a smile and a twinkle in her eye!

And by the way, she and her wonderful husband, Bob, joined everyone at our bowling fundraiser too! 


We are grateful to Parkinson’s Fitness program participant, Laurie Grieves, for allowing us to share excerpts from her personal story spoken during our November 3, 2016 second annual fundraiser.

“When Linda asked me to speak at tonight’s spectacular event, I froze! Many things ran through my head in that instant:
• would I do the opportunity justice?
• would I speak clearly?
• would I be understood?
• would I fall ?
• would I freeze?
Then I remembered who I would be speaking to, and I was sure that there would be much understanding. So please, bear with me.

I’m Laurie Grieves and I’m married to Bob Grieves. As a matter of fact, we were married in this very room. …Bob and I live in Peabody with Lucy and Wendell, our dog and cat. (Some of you have met Lucy!) I have 4 wonderful adult children – John, Cara , Alex and Luke – and 3 spectacular granddaughters – Lyla, Ruby and Veda, who live in Atlanta with John and his wife Jenny. God bless the creator of Facetime. Now, if only we had Tickletime and Hugtime as well…but I’m sure that’s coming!

I’ve led a fairly traditional life. Of course, that was until 8 or 9 years ago, when I got the Parkinson’s diagnosis. After nearly a year of searching for answers at the insistence of my sister, who swore that I was shuffling, walking hunched over, and looked angry all the time – I thought it was just my bossy big sister being bossy – I decided to check it out.

I remember, when the neurologist said the words “I’m sure you have Parkinson’s”, that my automatic response was “GET OUT!!!!”, and I struggled with an uncontrollable urge to giggle! He droned on about the symptoms (of Parkinson’s) and he recommended only one single website that he knew of. I brushed him off and went home to figure out how to shake this thing.

After the customary tears, I settled in and just ignored the changes taking place in my body. They were slow but I knew they were there. I would occasionally search the internet for information. But I either found “snake oil remedies” or something unattainable, such as an early-afternoon support group at the local senior center. I was 50 years old and working at the time, so I was unable to go to the senior center during the day. To be honest, the idea of going was less than appealing. But things weren’t going as well as I’d hoped.

I used to have a little sign in my kitchen that read: “God doesn’t promise you a smooth road, but often times He puts springs in the wagon”. I was certainly experiencing rough roads and wondering, “So, where are the springs for my wagon.”

I retired from my job when the burden of paperwork and memory issues got to be too much. I didn’t feel I was up to any job after that. The disease began to progress and time spent inside our house began to grow. I kept saying, “There have to be other people like me out there!” Finally, one day in my frustration, I typed in an internet search for “Peabody-Exercise-Parkinson’s” and up came The website was only a couple of months old at the time, so I still feel really lucky to have found them that day!

I attended my first class at the Danvers COA and, boy, was I surprised! What a great place and full of life and energy. I was greeted by this tiny lady with a huge smile and infectious laugh – we know her as Linda – and my anxiety evaporated! And on that first day everyone kept talking about someone named Marilyn – Marilyn is on vacation – Marilyn needed a vacation day, etc. I kept thinking, who is this Marilyn and why does she need a vacation day so much? When I finally met her, I understood. She, like the others, just doesn’t stop! I have also had the pleasure of honing my boxing skills under the direction of Keith Hall!

The dedication and commitment shown by this team is remarkable. Whether they are teaching a class of 2 or 22 people, the intensity is the same. They take our health as seriously as we do – maybe even sometimes more so! They are constantly introducing us to new ideas about battling this beast of a disease and there is no snake oil here!

If you told me 10 years ago that I would be dancing, African drumming, volunteering for research studies, attending seminars, bowling, exercising, and singing with a group of people I had never met before, I would have said, “GET OUT!!!” Parkinson’s Fitness is more than an exercise program. It also provides people with a supporting social network that augments the clinical aspects of this disease. We are all weathering this storm and traveling this journey together, and Parkinson’s Fitness has certainly blazed a path for us to follow. Thank you to the team for everything you do. You have truly made a difference in my life and you are the springs in my wagon.”

And we thank YOU, Laurie, for sharing your positive attitude every time you’re with us!
Sharing your story at the fundraiser took courage and grace…and you truly showed both!



Over 100 people gathered at our second annual Evening of Art and Wine fundraiser on Thursday evening, November 3rd, at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem! There was a joyful reunion of old friends, mingled with new faces everywhere!

Co-founders Keith and Linda Hall were gracious and welcoming in their opening remarks, followed by a moving description by class participant Laurie Grieves about what the Parkinson’s Fitness programs have meant in her life. Laurie explained to the audience how she never would have believed that as someone who didn’t necessarily like to exercise, not only is she doing that, but she’s also participated in drumming, boxing, singing, balance and movement classes, and the latest…cognitive tracking!

As Laurie finished speaking, surrounded by loud applause and we’re sure many teary eyes, music therapist and singing instructor Emily Interrante explained her role in our programming and proceeded to sing a class favorite, Fight Song, by composer/singer Rachel Platten. To the surprise of all in the room, 16 members of our singing class stood, moved forward to stand beside Emily, and joined in the singing in a mini “flash mob” style! They finished to well-deserved cheers and applause! To watch a brief video captured by phone:

It was an evening to long be remembered…a wonderfully appreciated blend of fun, friendship, emotion, music, good food and certainly encouragement that what we are doing through our programs is making a difference throughout the North Shore Parkinson’s community.

A HUGE and grateful thank you to everyone who supported the event in any and all ways!

Parkinson’s Awareness Month Newspaper Article…

Salem News staff writer Arianna MacNeill did a wonderful…and accurate!…job of presenting our programs to a wide North Shore audience. She and staff photographer Ken Yuszkus captured not only the physical faces of some of our class members, but also created a window for the public to glance through and gain better awareness about life with Parkinson’s disease.

If you haven’t seen the article, please visit this Salem News site:

Thank you, Arianna, Ken, and the Salem News for helping us share opportunities for empowering people with Parkinson’s to keep this G.O.A.L. = Go On Actively Living!

1 2