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Nonprofit of the Month – Indiana Parkinson Foundation

The Indiana Parkinson Foundation was founded in 2009 after Don Waterman, a Hamilton County farmer, was diagnosed with the debilitating disease. The diagnosis left Waterman and his family bereft when it came to navigating the disease and finding appropriate resources for treatment.

“Since 2009, our mission has been to stand beside those with Parkinson’s disease and their families, offering unique programs and services that enhance their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being,” Kim Williams, Executive Director, says. “We achieve this through three distinct pillars: exercise, education, and support, each designed to cater to the specific needs of our community. For instance, our exercise programs include The Climb, a specialized regimen for Parkinson’s Disease, and our support services encompass separate groups for patients and caregivers, both in-person and virtual.”

The exercise portion of its mission is called The Climb. Williams says it’s an evidence-based program developed specifically for Parkinson’s Disease. It focuses on reducing rigidity, increasing range of motion, and improving functional movement patterns. This helps patients maintain their independence and do the things they enjoy for years to come. The program is offered at nine locations around the state and virtually.

“We also offer support systems for people with the disease and their caregivers,” Williams says. “We know Parkinson’s Disease affects more than just the patient. So, we do offer two separate support groups. These groups are open to anyone affected by Parkinson’s Disease, and joining is as simple as reaching out to us. We’ve found that patients and their caregivers have different experiences while battling the disease and may not want to discuss their feelings in front of each other. Those are also offered in-person and virtually.”

The third and final component is the education piece of IPF’s mission. Williams says the nonprofit hosts annual educational seminars for patients, family members and caregivers. These seminars cover a wide range of topics, from the latest research on Parkinson’s Disease to practical tips for managing symptoms. Sometimes, attendees hear from neurologists, patient advocates, and local resources for the Parkinson’s community. The seminars are designed to be interactive, with opportunities for questions and discussions. Williams says the organization hopes this allows patients to have more productive conversations with their doctors.

“Each of our three pillars has its own focus, but one thing they all have in common is bringing people together,” Williams says. “It can be a very isolating diagnosis. Apathy, anxiety, depression, and isolation can all result if someone is not connected with resources to help them in different areas. So, we focus on bringing people together with others experiencing the same issues. The impact of this community support is significant, as it helps individuals with Parkinson’s Disease and their families feel less alone and more empowered to manage the challenges they face.”

Members of the community play a crucial role in assisting in IPF’s mission. The most obvious way is to donate, but volunteers are also needed for various committees, The Climb program, and training programs. Williams emphasizes that spreading the word about the organization is a significant need for their mission, underlining the value of everyone’s contribution.

“Many times, a diagnosis can feel like a smack in the face,” Williams says. “We see a lot of people who have received a diagnosis and medication and then feel like…now what? Indiana Parkinson’s Foundation is a community of resources.”

Indiana Parkinson’s Foundation is located at 14350 Mundy Drive, Suite 800 #181, in Noblesville. For more information, call 317-550-5648 or visit indianaparkinson.org.

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