I’ve had the distinct honor as a journalist to interview really important people who have done important things for society.
But as my dad said, “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”
The people who I’ve been most lucky to get to know are the people who care deeply for and give to the community.
One of those is Brian Reedy, who retired last year from teaching photography and digital media at Carson High School.
I wrote a story in November when he left, unable to continue teaching because of the struggles he confronted after his diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease.
While I was away from the office in July, Brian sent me an email explaining how his disease has progressed, and what he’s doing to help others with early diagnosis and to keep his own spirits up.
“Parkinson’s is different with everyone,” he said. “I experience things few others that I have met also do. The struggles that I have are physical as well as cognitive. The right side of my body is mostly affected. These days, my arms and legs get pretty weak. It’s difficult to stand long. My walking is mostly fine, but it doesn’t take long for my walking to get sloppy, unsteady and painful.”
However, he said, his primary concern is for those who have yet to be diagnosed.
“By the time I had the first tremor in my hand, 80 percent of my brain’s dopamine production was gone,” he said.
“So, I am a huge advocate of early detection. That is where a lot of the funding for Parkinson’s is starting to go towards.”
A group of his friends raised more than $3,000 as part of Team Parkinsons in the San Francisco Marathon on July 27.
He and his wife, Lily, ran the 5K.
Brian said they started out with the intent to “walk it slow and steady.”
In telling the story on Facebook, he wrote,
“Then I noticed a guy pass me. A strong sense of competitiveness came over me. From that point we picked up the pace.”
He added, “When I was felling a bit tired Lily took the lead (which really improved the view) and I kept with her pace. After a guy with really long legs kept passing us, we decided that no one would pass us for the rest of the 5K. We passed him, and never looked back again.”
That’s the perfect analogy for the kind of person Brian is. As a teacher, he worked so hard to empower his students, to inspire them to live a big life, regardless of obstacles or disabilities.
With this diagnosis, Brian is proving his words are more than rhetoric.
His focus is on helping others with the disease, and finding joy at the end of despair.
“It’s just a tough battle,” he said. “However, neither I nor the doctors are giving up hope.”
To find ways you can help or to follow his progress, go to Brian’s blog at www.parkinsons.chsreedy.com.