Original post at Life Balance Sports Blog, http://lifebalancesports.blogspot.com

By Gina Poertner, CHES

I recently attended a Victory Summit presented by the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s in Denver. The first thing I learned, the first victory, is that this isn’t just a symposium; it’s an Experience. The main reason for my trip down I-70 was to honor a request Davis made of me more than a year ago, to learn firsthand how the Victory Summit helps those afflicted and their families deal with Parkinson’s Disease. I figured it was pretty much a guarantee to make me a better advocate, very likely a better wellness professional, and maybe even a better coach. Well, it was so much more and a victory like no other.

Davis Phinney, diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2000, knows how to prove a point when he makes an entrance. Watching everyone brighten up when they ran through the venue was fun, proving what was possible. Six hundred victories in one fell swoop. He bounded onto the stage, flashed his bright smile, and supercharged the entire room. And you bet he had us throwing our arms up in the air for a big victory salute.

The presentations and panel discussions were top-notch and covered a variety of topics on the disease itself and living with its effects. We heard from doctors, therapists, and even a comedian who performed for us and later shared her experience of living with Young-Onset PD during a panel discussion. Maintaining control of movement is a primary focus for those living with Parkinson’s, so we were on the move all day long. We played instruments, exercised, stretched, and even danced. Each activity and each session is a new victory. Would you expect anything less from one of the winningest American cyclists?

Terry Poertner and Gina Poertner meet for the first time at the Davis Phinney Foundation's Victory Summit.

Connecting Families: Terry Poertner and Gina Poertner meet for the first time at the Davis Phinney Foundation’s Victory Summit.

The Victory Summit is very much about families since spouses, children, and relatives become caregivers to those living with PD. This summit had an unexpected and profound impact on my family. The Victory Crew’s Program Manager, Lauren Hunt, asked me about the other Poertners who would be attending. I wasn’t familiar with these people, but she ensured we connected. I met Terry and his sister, Carol, much to their surprise. We weren’t sure how or if we were actually related, but it didn’t take long to realize that it didn’t matter; we became family that day through the Experience. It was a significant victory for all of us. Terry and his father both have Parkinson’s, so he and Carol filled me in on what they deal with day-to-day. Terry is an athlete and an avid skier determined to continue in his sport, to keep counting victories, and to live well today.

The Victory Summit Experience had blown the top off of any expectations I might have had. About 600 people experienced the day, 600 more reasons that Every Victory Counts®. You can help bring more victories to those living with Parkinson’s Disease by donating to the Davis Phinney Foundation on my special page, TNW Victory.

If you or someone you know has Parkinson’s disease, make it a point to attend a Victory Summit. You’ll hear from top medical professionals, get your questions answered, and actively learn skills to Live Well Today. I can’t guarantee you’ll meet unknown relatives, but I can guarantee that you’ll leave with new skills, more knowledge, and your unique Experience.

Please click here to donate to the Davis Phinney Foundation.

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