John Ball receives the Matthew T. Robinson, Jr. Award of Courage at the 15th Annual DesignCare of the HollyRod Foundation

July 30, 2013 - Our very own John Ball received the Matthew T. Robinson, Jr. Award of Courage at the 15th Annual DesignCare of the HollyRod Foundation. The HollyRod Foundation helps provide coverage for medical care and medications through USC for patients with Parkinson’s disease who cannot afford care on their own. The award is given to those who have dedicated their time and effort to raising awareness and improving the lives of those living with Parkinson’s disease. We are incredibly proud of John and all he has done for the Parkinson’s community over the years. If you would like to recognize John’s accomplishments on this wonderful occasion, you may donate to Team Parkinson in his honor.


View event photos here.

Read Edna's blog post about the event.

John's acceptance speech:

"First, I must thank Holly Robinson Peete and Rodney Peete, and their entire family, for even considering me for this award. I consider it a genuine honor, and I will treasure it, because the man in whose name the award is given, Mathew T. Robinson, Jr., was a gifted actor, a successful writer, and, I can only assume, judging by his offspring, a great father and teacher.  From the first time I heard about the Hollyrod Foundation and its mission to help an underserved community, I was convinced that Rodney and Holly Peete must be wonderful people, not just over-the-top successes in their challenging professional lives, but concerned and caring people in their hearts. And I can honestly say that nothing I have ever heard or read about them has changed that impression. Thank you both for being who you are, and for bringing your special gifts to the support of two very challenged communities, autism and Parkinson’s.

Awards are very exciting, and receiving this one is extremely gratifying. I have been fortunate to have attended three of these gala events, and watched my friends and colleagues in the Parkinson’s community be recognized for their efforts. My good friends Bruce Wisnicki, Wanda Milton, and Lisette Ackerberg, have preceded me to this podium, and I know they have each made significant contributions to the Parkinson’s community, so I feel blessed to follow in their footsteps.  There have been other, more celebrated recipients, but I am neither a celebrity, nor a professional athlete, and I have spent most of my life in blissful obscurity, just going to work and raising a family. To be honest, that was fine with me.  But once I woke up to the needs of the Parkinson’s community, I realized that I can’t make a difference if I’m not willing to show up and put my Parkie face in front of people, and talk to them about the impact PD has on our lives--not just my life, but all those who live with this disease in their family and in their community. 

Fortunately, Edna and I have found a platform to speak from and an organization to make what we do possible. When Mary Yost created Team Parkinson as an Official Charity of the LA Marathon, The Parkinson Alliance was there to provide administrative support and a 501c3 tax exempt number so we could use the marathon as a vehicle to raise Parkinson’s awareness and fund scientific research. After the first successful effort in March, 2000, Edna volunteered to become the chair person for the event.  In 2002, I retired from my day job to become her co-chair.  With the on-going support of Carol Walton and The Parkinson Alliance, Team Parkinson has evolved from an event to an organization with the capacity to raise awareness, sponsor research and motivate those living with Parkinson’s to retake control  of their quality of life.
Along the way I have been so very fortunate to encounter many wonderful medical professionals, doctors and neuroscientists like Mark Lew, Giselle Petzinger, Mike Jakowec and Jeff Bronstein, therapists like Didi Matthews and Robin Howard and caring team members like Sarah Ingersol, Steve Mackel, and my running mates --Mark Saxonberg, Doug MacGlashan, and May May Ali and their families.  My life has been enriched by each of you.
Like the different designers who have supported this event, I think of Parkinson’s as a designer disease, because each of us gets our own version of it, and our private set of fears and concerns.  We can’t predict the course of the disease for anyone else, or even prescribe for them a particular set of coping strategies; but we can support each other, and inform each other, and learn from each other. By doing our best, each of us can make our own contribution to the future, a future where Parkinson’s will no longer strike terror in the hearts of the newly diagnosed, or anxiety in the minds of their family and friends. 

We can help our community, and the world, by supporting clinical trials, sharing our experience with doctors and researchers, and doing all we can to take care of ourselves, so we can be there for those we love and depend on most, our families.

I give my utmost thanks to my wife, Edna, who has lived with PD since the age of 11, when her mother was diagnosed with it, and always does her very best to be more wife than care partner, and to my children, David and Sarah, who were four and three years old when I was diagnosed.  They’ve never known a father without symptoms of this disease. I must give them a courage award for facing their future with optimism and honesty.  All I have done for this community, and all I will do going forward, I do for them and their generation.

Thank you, Holly and Rodney, for this wonderful opportunity, and this wonderful gift of recognition. I will treasure it forever."

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