Congratulations to John Ball, winner of the 2009 Alan Bonander Humanitarian Award - 11/20/2008

The Alan Bonander Humanitarian Award will be presented to John Ball of Whittier, California at the 15th Parkinson’s Unity Walk in Central Park.

The Alan Bonander Humanitarian Award is awarded to an individual in recognition of their exemplary contribution to the Parkinson’s community. Read more about John's outstanding contribution to Parkinson's advocacy.

A letter from Mary Yost, co-founder Team Parkinson, to John Ball:

Dear John,

The two times when you decided to stop running were life changing moments for me, maybe for us both.

In 1999 at mile 23 of the LA Marathon, I saw you running by and shouted out "Go, John Ball." You paused for a hug and a laugh, which took precious minutes off your time. The legend was true --- a man with Parkinson's running marathons!

The other time you stopped running was several years after Team Parkinson had been going strong. It was the year I'd dreaded -- the year when you weren't able to run. I'd thought it would be devastating. John Ball, not running? What was I thinking? Though a change in medication from a clinical trial kept you from running yourself that day, you used the time by popping up all along the race to run beside our Team members, cheering them on. It was also the year that our friend Dan Kiefer was running. He tried to smile as he passed our cheering corner near the finish line, "Go, Dan Kiefer!" After he staggered by, we had a hug and a good cry. Such a distance we'd come, such a distance we have to go.

You will have heard many stories about Alan Bonander by now. For me, the best description of Alan was what Carol Walton said at his funeral -- to the effect that he wore so many hats and covered so many bases… it was going to take all of us pick up his baton. Parts of him that shine through in you are his fearlessness and empathy. No person was too grand or too small to be treated with anything other than respect and kindliness. Just as you inspired me to walk the marathon and work for Team Parkinson, Alan's irresistible insistence nudged me into forming support groups and editing stories for his newsletter. Just as you proved that one missed marathon wouldn't stop you from forging on, Alan never stopped looking ahead. The last project I remember working on with him was designing a kind of Utopian treatment and living center for people with severe Parkinson's. He must be up there, free from PD, smiling in approval that John Ball won his Award.