Thursday 18 January 2018

Frank's leap of faith to help start Parkinson's group in the local region

Fiona Magennis

A Drogheda resident who undertook a skydive in Australia to raise awareness for Parkinsons has set up a new support group for sufferers and their families in the local area.

Frank Snowe, who lives in Drogheda, was diagnosed with the condition a year and a half ago and decided to do the jump after finding information and support for the condition difficult to find locally with the nearest support groups based in Dundalk and Malahide.

Frank set up a crowdfunding page to raise funds for the Parkinson's Association of Ireland (PAI) and is so far on course to reach his €2,000 target.

'We've got €1,700 in so far and we have promises from some people who heard about it when I was over in Australia so hopefully we shouldn't have a problem hitting the target,' said Frank.

Frank travelled to Australia in March to see his daughter and took part in the parachute jump at Jurien Bay in Perth alongside his granddaughter Emma.

'I did the skydive and I survived it,' he said. 'Everything went well and my granddaughter did it with me. I was very very nervous going up into it but saying that once you get over the initial thing of having to jump off the side of the plane it's one of the most beautiful things you can do.'

He said the parachute jump was liberating and inspired him to try other things he would previously never dreamt of doing.

'When I was over there I said I can do a skydive I can rollerskate. So I did. I have two left feet at the best of times but your balance is off with Parkinsons as well so it was absolutely comical, I looked like Todd Carthy when he first appeared on Dancing on Ice. I'd never been on a moped so I gave that a go as well, I tried so many things that I've never done before. I've been very down in the dumps since my diagnosis so this has given me a great lift. I really gained a lot from the experience.'

Now back in Drogheda, he said the next step is to establish a local support group for other people in the area who have Parkinsons and for their family and friends.

He said four people living locally have already been in touch to say they would be very interested in joining and he is hopeful that more people will come on board as word spreads.

'They're all really interested in getting involved to start a support group for people with Parkinsons and their relatives so that's going to be the focus now, to get the support group off the ground and up and running,' said Frank. 'Hopefully myself and the four people who have already contacted me will be able to build something out of it and it can grow from there. There are 9,000 people in the county living with Parkinsons and we need support.

'Parkinsons is very isolating so you need to be able to meet up and talk about it with people who understand what you're going through. If you know you have Parkinsons you suddenly realise why these things are going on that you don't understand.

'People think of Parkinsons and they think of someone with tremors but they don't realise how many symtoms there are.'

He said these can vary from mood swings to rigid muscles as well as trouble sleeping and night terrors.

'It's a very lonely disease. People don't realise all the implications and all the symtoms. Every single person with Parkinsons has different symptoms.'

Drogheda Independent

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