Finding the perfect gift can be tough – especially for the “Big Seven-O”. Duke is an inspiration to his family, which is why they wanted to celebrate his birthday differently this year. With a little help from us, Duke was blown away by his birthday gift – a donation in his honor.
We sat down to chat with the DeGrassi family to find out why they decided to Celebrate! Duke with this special gift.
See the DeGrassi’s Responses Below
Duke, how has the Davis Phinney Foundation helped you live well?
When I was diagnosed seven years ago, I knew I needed to do something to help myself. The Davis Phinney Foundation focuses on being active and living well every day. They encouraged me to get started and gave me the tools I needed to help me manage this disease the best I can.
What are three things you’d recommend for other people living with Parkinson’s?
1. If you can afford it, work with a trainer or physical therapist who understands Parkinson’s. If they don’t know much about it, give them the Every Victory Counts® manual to help educate them. If you cannot afford a trainer, make sure you stay active and follow the exercises that are best for you. You have to be proactive in what you need because not everyone with Parkinson’s has the same symptoms and challenges.
2. Remember to stretch. I work with a chiropractor who has really helped me with my stiffness. Also, a little yoga goes a long way. Yoga helps me with flexibility, balance and core.
3. Don’t allow yourself to get down. I was horribly depressed, and I think it is the most dangerous part of this disease. People need to understand that depression is NOT A STIGMA. If you don’t get help, depression can debilitate you. My wife, Gayla, helped me identify my depression and encouraged me to see a therapist.
How did you feel when you received this gift from your family?
I was completely blown away! At my age, it’s so hard to find the right gift. I’ve always believed in helping others, and I raised my daughter, Robin, to be a philanthropist like me. So when she coordinated with the family to donate to the Davis Phinney Foundation in my honor, I felt amazing.
Gayla, as a care partner, do you have some advice?
When your spouse is diagnosed, it hits you both similarly. We tried going to a lot of different seminars, but they were incredibly depressing to us. When we went to our first Davis Phinney Foundation event, we connected with the right people; it was a very positive outlet for us. Duke and I stay active together so we can both live well. It has helped us tremendously.
What did you think about Duke’s gift?
Our family wanted to give him a gift that really mattered to him. Robin’s idea was an easy and wonderful way to give a special gift. She created the page, and our whole family contributed in his honor.
Robin, what do you admire about your dad?
He’s dedicated to the people in his life. He is a wonderfully generous person and believes in giving back. He embodies the Davis Phinney Foundation’s spirit of helping people.
Why did you want to give your dad something different this year?
My dad’s philanthropy has made a huge impact on my life, which is why I wanted to make a donation to the Foundation in his honor. To me, it was the best way to tell my dad how much he means to me and to our family – and it was really easy to do!
The DeGrassi family celebrated Duke’s 70th in Mexico, where they presented him with his surprise gift.
Celebrating Something Big?
Celebrate someone you love on their special day by creating a personalized page so family and friends can donate to a cause they care about.