Brett Stewart and his family and friends are raising funds for Parkinson’s through sales of a book that Brett has written, called Isabelle May. The story invites early readers to improve their reading skills through rhyme and to dramatise their learning.
Brett was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2013 and has pushed past the difficult days to put this whimsical story together. He was a school teacher for more than 40 years and has accumulated many children’s stories, meaning this could be the first of many more. At the moment he and his family are working to fund the publishing of Isabelle May through Pozible, while also collecting donations for Shake It Up.
We wanted to hear more about this story, so spoke with Cherry, Brett’s wife.
What drives your commitment to a cure for Parkinson’s?
Our husband and father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2013. He had to retire from teaching, but was still very much involved in writing children’s stories. He has hundreds of stories and poems in his filing cabinets. The medicine and his exercise program worked very well for him up till the pandemic hit. The anxiety during Covid-19 limited his activities. With these limitations, his health declined. We had thought that the medication would keep him going, however we have had to rethink our approach. Thus, we have turned to investigating other alternatives. Supporting people who engage in Parkinson’s Research is the best way to supplement our own efforts to improve his condition.
There has been significant progress made in stem cell research. Supporting continued research may eventually help many people if the cells which control movement and thought can be regenerated, or at least the progression of such loss is slowed down.
What are you doing to fundraise and make a difference? Tell us more about the project.
As Brett’s primary interest is in playing with words, and telling stories, we felt it was important to involve him in the fundraising. He had polished up one of his favourite stories ready for publishing, but for a time we were unsure how to get it into the hands of the public. Then we found an Australian crowd-funding website Pozible and noted that we could combine the activity of raising funds for Parkinson’s Research with publication of one of his stories. We all love the story, and everyone who Brett has shared it with found it fun and witty.
Brett was very active in local dramatic activities, and was very disappointed when he found that his voice had become too soft, and he could no longer remember his lines for taking on roles.
During his 40 years of teaching he encouraged children to transform their reading activities into dramatic and entertaining events for themselves and for others. Isabelle May is a story that is fun for everyone. It subtly encourages readers to understand the power of words and ideas.
We know that seeing his work published and in the hands of children and their families will be the best medicine for Brett. It is also a way that he can engage with others when listening to them share his story.
What would be the greatest reward from this project?
We have done the maths and believe that with the initial target we have set, we can print and send out the book to all the people who pledge AND also have donation for Parkinson’s Research. Ultimately, reaching our stretch $10,000 target will mean that we will be able to raise a substantial amount for Parkinson’s as well as having lots of books in the hands of children and families, schools and libraries all over the world. The greatest reward from the project will be seeing a smile on Brett’s face when the published book and a list of recipients is in his hands.
You can support Brett’s efforts to publish the book via their Pozible campaign (funds donate go towards publishing book) or you can donate to their fundraising page for Parkinson’s (funds go towards Shake It Up).