The all-volunteer Hawai’i Parkinson Association supports patients and caregivers

Commander Jerry Boster was 47 and about to retire from the US Navy in 2013 when he was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease. Soon after, he participated in the Hawai’i Parkinson Association’s annual walk to raise awareness and donate and is now Chairman of the Board.

“Because of my background as a naval officer, they asked me to take a leadership position,” says Boster.

He is also a National Parkinson’s Advocate and serves on the Unified Parkinson’s Advocacy Council and the Movement Disorders Policy Coalition.

“I do what I do for two reasons: to help find the cure for Parkinson’s disease myself, but along the way, I also want to help all my brothers and sisters who are struggling,” he says.

Courtesy of: Jerry Boster, Hawai’i Parkinson Association

The Hawai’i Parkinson Association, established in 1996, is a non-profit organization comprised of people with Parkinson’s disease, caregivers, family members, medical professionals, educators and community leaders. ‘company.

The group is run by volunteers and has no paid staff. Nonetheless, he interacts with approximately 2,500 people through phone calls, teleconferences, emails, support groups and in-person exercises and events.

“We embrace the values ​​of aloha in the way we treat people: with warmth, compassion and empathy,” Boster says.

He says 10% to 15% of the people the group cares for have early-onset Parkinson’s disease – occurring in people under 50 – and the rest are kūpuna. “

All materials from our Resource Center at St. Francis Healthcare System are available free of charge; it’s all paid for through donations and corporate funding,” says Boster. “We don’t even take government money.”

Hawaiian Parkinson's Association

Courtesy of: Jerry Boster, Hawai’i Parkinson Association

Kai McDurmin, 57, was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease 11 years ago. She first contacted the Hawai’i Parkinson Association for resources and to find another person with the condition she could talk to and relate to.

“When you’re diagnosed with a chronic illness, you can often feel like you’re the only one,” she says. “You are constantly looking for information, and going to the internet alone is not always the best resource, so calling, emailing, or visiting a living body from someone who is here and understands your situation can be very helpful.”

McDurmin ended up volunteering for the organization.

“HPA gave me everything from finding doctors who were experts in Parkinson’s disease to places where I could take specialized exercise classes, support groups and events where I could meet more people,” says -she.

Hawaiian Parkinson's Association

Courtesy of: Jerry Boster, Hawai’i Parkinson Association

She now runs the association’s resource center office in the St. Francis Health System building on Liliha Street, helping callers as well as walk-ins. She also helps work on projects like the annual walk and an annual symposium, a hybrid educational event that connects patients, caregivers, family members, friends, healthcare professionals and the public.

“HPA is truly a central hub for all things Parkinson’s in Hawai’i,” McDurmin says.

Learn more or donate at parkinsonshawai.org.

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