When Hobart mum Sonya Enkelmann lines up for the Point to Pinnacle this weekend, she will achieve a long-term goal. It isn’t however quite how this once keen runner imagined.
Fourteen months ago, the day after her 49th birthday, Sonya was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. “To say it was a shock is an understatement – I didn’t know that younger people could even get Parkinson’s!” says Sonya.
Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive, degenerative condition which impacts a person’s control of their body movement. Estimated to impact 200,000 Australians, symptoms vary and can include tremors, fatigue, pain and muscle rigidity. There is no cure. About 20 per cent of people living with Parkinson’s experience symptoms before the age of 50. Commonly known as Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease or YOPD, it can present additional challenges for people already juggling a mortgage, working and caregiving responsibilities.
Early diagnosis and intervention are crucial to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. “Before diagnosis I found it increasingly difficult to be active” says Sonya. “I still need to be careful but I’m so much better. Adds Andrew, “It’s been so good to see Sonya back doing the things she loves.”
To help raise awareness of YOPD and the importance of early intervention, Sonya and husband Andrew entered Team Young Onset Parky’s into the Point to Pinnacle. “We’ve been overwhelmed by the support of family, friends and our colleagues” says Sonya. With 51 participants, Team Young Parky’s will be out in force. “And thanks to our amazing sponsors Oaked-Gold, UPC\AC Renewables Australia, Narayani Wellness and Federal MP Mr Andrew Wilkie, we’ll look the part in our t-shirts and socks!” Sonya laughs.
“We’re also incredibly grateful to the many people who together have donated almost $6,000 to team charity, the Shake It Up Australia Foundation” notes Sonya. The Foundation works collaboratively with the Michael J Fox Foundation to fund Australian research which aims to prevent, slow and stop the progression of Parkinson’s. The ultimate aim however is to find a cure. People can still donate to our fundraising page. Every dollar counts!
“Living with Parkinson’s can be challenging” admits Sonya, “but I’m grateful to be healthy and well. Being able to raise awareness of YOPD through the P2P gives me hope for the future”.
We asked Sonya what a cure to Parkinson’s would mean to her:
“What would a cure for Parkinson’s mean to me? It is a simple question but it tears at the heart.
A cure would mean I can continue to explore the world with my kids. Take them bush walking, camping, backpacking, mountain biking. It would mean my husband and I can travel and live out our lives as we’ve always planned. It would mean I can maintain my sense of self, my independence, to run and walk and do the things I wish to with my friends. It would mean I can continue to work in the job I love and from which I draw so much meaning. It would mean I can continue to volunteer and be part of my community.
My diagnosis has brought many gifts as well as challenges. It has focused my mind on what is important to me. It helps me to live in the moment and be kinder to myself. I don’t kid myself however. If I could give up this thing of Parkinson’s, I would. In a heartbeat .
A cure is the ultimate but it feels almost too much to hope for. A cure means everything.”
Find out more about how you can make a difference by getting involved with fundraising. 100% of all funds raised will go directly towards cutting-edge Parkinson’s Research for better treatments to slow, stop and prevent Parkinson’s progression.