Lauren Simmons' Extraordinary Life with Parkinson's
Last updated: November 2020
We have all read or heard inspiring stories of exceptional people with Parkinson's. Running marathons, riding bikes for great distances, or climbing mountains are all fantastic feats when you have Parkinson's. I admire the folks who do those things.
I am also interested in those ordinary people with Parkinson's who find a way to bring a unique spirit, grit, and even a sense of victory to their life, family, friends, and other people with Parkinson's.
Coping with a Parkinson's diagnosis
I am lucky to be friends with Lauren Simmons. She is one of those seemingly ordinary people who made up her mind at diagnosis to do everything she could to slow the progress.
She received her diagnosis at age 54. By the time she was diagnosed by her doctor, she had dealt with the same symptoms that many of us deal with: tremors, foot-dragging, stiffness, etc. Then there was the "what do I do now" and "where do I start" questions, which we all have.
After a lot of research, she discovered that vigorous exercise might slow the progression. She learned about a Rock Steady Boxing gym near her home. Although boxing was not even close to being part of her previous life, and she was very uncomfortable in those first sessions, she did it.
I was there that first day when she walked into the gym. She was hiding in the corner for several weeks, but she worked hard, and the grit she possessed kept her coming back.
Supporting others in the Parkinson's community
Over time her boxing skills improved and she became a class leader. A year after starting at Rock Steady, she became a certified Rock Steady coach. That was the beginning of a quest to live the best life possible.
Because of her own experiences, Lauren was determined to help others, especially the newly diagnosed. She joined a support group and a few months later she became one of the group's facilitators.
As part of a leadership team, the group grew from 8 to 10 people attending to upwards of 50. She brought new ideas and speakers to the group. She became an ambassador for one of the national organizations and started giving speeches telling her story.
Addressing a need for local Parkinson's information
Lauren recalled the problems she had finding useful local information after diagnosis. She heard the same thing from many others living with Parkinson's. Lauren and her friends talked about the need for a central hub of Parkinson's information in Orange County, California, and with the help of friends, she started the site PD Buzz.com.
Today, PD Buzz is the leading information site for people with Parkinson's in Orange County. Lauren receives inquiries from around the country for a PD Buzz in other local communities. With help from the Parkinson's Wellness Fund, she is in the early stages of expanding PD Buzz.
The site she created is a leading contributor to the Parkinson's community and is involved with many projects. The latest is a collaboration called JUMP START designed for the newly diagnosed.
Living your best life with Parkinson's
What gives Lauren her edge? How does she do it? She exercises vigorously, eats properly, and is very engaged in the community. These are the bedrock of all that she does. Far from ordinary, she is an extraordinary example of living the best life possible with Parkinson's.
I have worked with Lauren on several projects and worked out with her for years. I know she is personally in touch with someone with Parkinson's almost every day. Her most impressive skill is her ability to listen to and guide people with Parkinson's through the roadblocks they face.
She is a game-changer. Lauren is a champion, living the best possible life with Parkinson's and inspiring others to do the same.
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