• Sat. May 14th, 2022

My Parkinson’s Support Group Brings Shared Experiences

ByJulie J. Helfer

Apr 18, 2022

Photo courtesy of Patrick Pelkey

Day 18 of 30

Here is Patrick Pelkey’s story:

My name is Patrick Pelkey. I am 68 years old and have always lived in New London, Wisconsin. Over 19 years ago I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and first heard about woodcarving while attending a Parkinson’s disease support group in the city. neighbor of Appleton.

About 14 years ago I started taking woodcarving lessons because a guy in my support group told me it helped him with his tremors. I tried it, and it works for me too. When I sculpt, my tremors seem to disappear.

I make a lot of heartwarming birds – which are little woodcarvings that can fit in the palm of your hand – out of laminate and other woods, and give them to people in hospitals and nursing homes. I have now given away 510 birds for free to people in need. I think it helps me as much as it helps them. It gives me a good feeling to know that I am helping others.

I recently gave a talk on December 7, 2021, at a fundraiser for the Wisconsin Parkinson’s Association in Brookfield, Wisconsin. I donated three of my comfort birds that were auctioned off that night and raised $1,750 for the charity. The pink laminate bird sold for $250, the red laminate one sold for $500, and the other, made from the burl of a maple tree, sold for $1,000. I also made a comfort birds bird nest out of all the different colors of laminate.

What has helped me is sharing my experiences with others. I am the leader of a Parkinson’s disease support group in Neenah, Wisconsin. I was also asked to be a Parkinson’s advocate for the Michael J. Fox Foundation, and was able to go to Washington DC and talk to our politicians about the disease. I tell people don’t feel sorry for me, because I control my disease well with a lot of medication and I am now doing things that I would never have done without Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s News Today’s 30 Days of PD campaign will feature one story a day for Parkinson’s Awareness Month in April. follow us on Facebook and instagram for more stories like this, use the hashtag #30DaysofPD, or read the full series.