Tribute to John Campbell

Team Parkinson 2008 at the San Francisco Marathon was dedicated to the memory of John Campbell. John and his wife Pamela, and their daughter Alison, were great supporters of Team Parkinson and especially loved the San Francisco event. We were all saddened by John’s passing but were so honored to have Pamela and Alison speak at our SF event carbo dinner on August 2, 2008. Here are the moving words they shared with us.

Pamela and Alison Campbell Six months ago this past Friday my husband passed away from complications of Parkinson’s. Last year, 2007, he was sitting in Sinbad’s eating his pasta. His name was John Campbell and he fought to live a quality life until his very last moment. I stand before you tonight as a living breathing example of a caregiver indebted to not only the work of the many Parkinson’s Foundations and in particular Team Parkinson’s but to the graciousness and warmth of the people in this room.

Several years ago my daughter Alison and I jogged the half marathon in San Francisco twice. We are from New Jersey and this was no small matter. My husband John, a two-time NYC marathon runner, was not able to jog with us—his balance would not let him but he cheered from the sidelines-back then. The third time we came to do the San Francisco marathon I brought my husband to the Expo. This is where his life changed dramatically. I saw tears come to his eyes as he spotted a booth-not just any booth but Team Parkinsons’s Booth. His face lit up. It was something I hadn’t seen in quite some time as Carol from Princeton, NJ and Jennifer from San Francisco treated him like a celebrity. His morale soared, his hopelessness vanished-he had found a new family, one that understood what he was going through. I smiled on the outside but my heart burst with thankfulness on the inside. I, too, the spouse had found new friends-friends who did not leave when the going got rough.

Last summer my husband did the 5K Parkinson’s Walk in a wheelchair with all of us. We all took turns pushing him and he even held the Team Parkinson’s sign for awhile. The sign never stood higher nor more proud then when my husband held it in his weakening arms. John’s death was sudden. I never expected last summer’s race to be his last. He was still reading John Ball’s inspiring book. It took him much longer then it would have in the past. I knew he thought about every word. My husband was a big NY Yankees fan but John and Edna Ball were his heroes.

My daughter Alison and I are here this year to honor the courage and bravery of all those people suffering from this horrible disease. Yet I want to propose a challenge to all you caregivers- as I was. LET’S BE SURE TO REMEMBER QUALITY OF LIFE AND INVOLVMENT IN LIFE. Try to keep the ailing as normally involved in life as possible. When we say “have a nice day” let’s try to help them have a nice day. Yes, it can get very trying-five hours to get John ready in the morning-but we did it as long as we could. My husband’s wheelchair had no less then 10 baggage claim stickers on it. This is a proud memory of all those appreciated trips. I called it being part of “The Frequent Roller’s Club.” Life should give us a break after ten of those trips!

In finishing I must relay a message from the beyond because I know that John wants me to say this to all of you for being here for him and all that suffer, both from the disease or as a part of a family caring for the diseased-THANK YOU. A big warm Irish bear hug and a heartfelt “God Bless you” to all of you. Let’s keep rolling on-TO A CURE!


Pamela Campbell
Loving spouse of 25 years
For My Father

The reason I stand before you today is to honor the memory of a strong man who was living inside a helpless body. It all started seven years ago, we think, when my father was diagnosed with something that would forever change both his life and ours. Years passed and the disease progressed to the point where he was hardly able to move. I watched as my mom would try to help him but his frustrations were so hard for me and my mom to handle. The idea of us not being able to help him was even harder. Being a young teenager I tried to ignore the fact that my father was slowly dying. I lived in this dream that he would last forever truly believing in my heart that he would never leave us. Words can not describe how much I miss my father. I would do anything to have him back in my life. It was only after my father’s death that I was compelled to reach out and try to make a difference. I learned one thing and that is love is forever.

Dad, I want you to know that you will always have a special place in my heart. I’ll leave you with one last
thought. Together we can make a difference, together we can find a cure. Are you ready?

Love always,
Your Daughter Alison

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