One Local Nonprofit is Filling a Void and Being a Friend to Those in Need
By Jennifer Florendo
An estimated 60,000 individuals are diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) each year. That equates to one person every nine minutes. Parkinson’s Disease is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder, specifically a movement disorder, affecting the dopamine-producing cells of the brain that control muscle movement. When those cells die, symptoms of PD appear in patients, including rigidity in movement, tremors, instability, gait problems and reduced facial expressions.
Finding support groups and resources for the approximately 20,000 Las Vegas residents who live with PD was a challenge. That changed in 2014 when Jamillah Ali-Rahman founded Friends of Parkinson’s, Inc. and committed to filling that void in our community for those affected by PD. “In Las Vegas, there are tens of thousands of people living with PD, but they didn’t have a dedicated group to provide support and resources for themselves and caregivers,” says Ali-Rahman. “The number of instances of PD is growing at an alarming pace. As it stands, those living with PD will more than double the number of patients by 2040.”
Friends of Parkinson’s is a nonprofit organization that provides support, resources and lifestyle management to those affected by neurological disorders and the neurological community related to PD in Las Vegas and surrounding areas. The events are designed to create engagement among the movement disorder community in a safe and comfortable environment where patients may not otherwise be encouraged to leave their own homes. These support groups are professionally facilitated and are offered at no cost to the participants.
Through fundraising events, including the annual Funny Bunny Run in the spring, the Sock Hop in the fall, and other related events including two medical symposiums and educational opportunities, Friends of Parkinson’s builds hope in the neurological community.
Ali-Rahman is often asked about her connection to PD and the answer is a little surprising. “No one in my family has PD. I just simply knew the statistics and knew the need for an organization like ours to help our community. And we are growing rapidly; we just opened an office in Pahrump to help even more members of our community,” says Ali-Rahman. “And I love what I do.”
Ali-Rahman’s perseverance for raising awareness about movement disorders propelled her to author and publish a book, “Living Well With Parkinson’s Disease: A Beginner’s Guide,” which is available locally by contacting the Friends of Parkinson’s office and online through the website.
Friends of Parkinson’s was clearly born out of passion and continues to grow with the hard work and dedication of the board members. This can’t be done without the support of a strong and dedicated board. Board members include: Dr. Eric Farbman, Neurologist, Movement Disorder Specialist; Dr. Merrill Landers, PT, DPT, PhD, OCS, Chair and Professor, UNLV, Department of Physical Therapy; Jacqueline C. Jones, MSW, LSW, Social Worker; Mark Zobrist, Attorney at Law, Retired; Emily Higby, CEO, Asian Community Resource Center. “There’s nothing like giving back to make a difference for the community.”
For more information on Friends of Parkinson’s, please visit friendsofparkinsons.org or call 702.381.4141.