Founded in 2015, our Ambassador Leadership Program supports local community leaders, volunteers, and change-makers in their personal pursuits to help people with Parkinson’s live well today. From speaking with individuals and families to presenting at conferences, sharing resources through exhibit tables, and participating in local, regional, and national advocacy, our Ambassadors are active, passionate volunteers changing how people live with Parkinson’s. Read on for details about our newest Ambassadors.
Chuck Brown – Dracut, Massachusetts
Chuck was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s in April 2008 and became an advocate in December 2014. He joined several support groups online and met some wonderful people who referred him to the Parkinson’s Action Network, where he learned early on that diet and exercise were important to keep in check to treat his symptoms. Getting to know an Ambassador at the Parkinson’s Policy Forum while advocating for Parkinson’s led Chuck to apply to be an Ambassador. Chuck is looking to reach more people looking for resources that will allow them to live well with Parkinson’s, as well as provide support to those who care for people with Parkinson’s. Learn more about Chuck here.
TOM COSENTINO – Ocean View, Delaware
Tom says that since his Parkinson’s diagnosis, he has felt lucky to meet several people within the community who have helped him greatly; if it weren’t for three or four individuals, he says, he would be a much different person today. He has worked with many Parkinson’s foundations and organizations as an advocate. For Tom, living well with Parkinson’s means that he is making a conscious effort to find the joy and happiness in life and is doing everything he can to manage his Parkinson’s, rather than let his Parkinson’s manage him. Tom is most excited by the opportunity to give back to the community that has given so much to him. Learn more about Tom here.
GAIL GITIN – Boulder, Colorado
Gail was a care partner to her husband Gene with Parkinson’s for more than 15 years. Living in Boulder, the Davis Phinney Foundation has made a significant impact on Gail, her husband, and her community. With multiple opportunities through support groups, exercise classes, and lectures to increase understanding surrounding Parkinson’s, Gail and Gene were able to improve their quality of life and develop a positive outlook. Gail is looking forward to meeting new people and sharing her experience to help make others’ journeys a little less stressful. Living well with Parkinson’s means making the best of each day, meeting new friends, feeling good about achieving a goal, and feeling positive. Learn more about Gail here.
larry linton – maple, ontario
Like many others, the beginning of Larry’s journey with Parkinson’s in 2012, was messy and difficult. Aside from a constant tremor in his right hand and a dragging right leg, Larry identified as a recluse, prone to panic attacks and living life from the couch. The first two years following the diagnosis threw him into a downward spiral, feeling withdrawn from his family and finding it easier to deny what he had. However, after an exhausting initial phase of denial and going through the five stages of grief, Larry found acceptance with his diagnosis. With that acceptance Larry, literally, got off the couch and reclaimed his life which has, in many respects, become more rewarding, fulfilling, and meaningful than at any time before his diagnosis. By sharing his story, Larry hopes to inspire others to live their most authentic and best lives with Parkinson’s, too. Learn more about Larry here.
Stuart Munro – Lake Quivira, Kansas
Stuart was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in January 2019, though he (a physician) and his wife (a nurse practitioner) had both become aware of the symptoms for several years before his diagnosis. A great source of strength and support for Stuart since his diagnosis has been his workout group at a local gym, led by trainers who understand Parkinson’s and design workouts accordingly. His fellow group members are always supportive and understanding of one another. And the exercise itself brings long- and short-term satisfaction: knowing its positive impacts while making Stuart feel good today. After a long and happy career as a psychiatrist who has been heavily involved with the education of the next generation of physicians, Stuart is excited to help others who find themselves in a similar situation find the resources they need to live well. Learn more about Stuart here.
JOHN SAVARESE – Chatham, New Jersey
John was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2019, after experiencing tremors and other common symptoms. After going through the acceptance phase of the diagnosis, John quickly realized that he was not alone and has the support of his family, friends, and the Parkinson’s community. Since then, John has taken a proactive approach to living well with Parkinson’s. He believes that education is medicine and that it’s important to understand how you can live well by leveraging the information available to you. Doing significant research surrounding Parkinson’s after his diagnosis, John is looking forward to helping others learn about their diagnosis and better understand how they can live well today. Learn more about John here.
CAROLYN UTESCH – Bloomington, Indiana
Having founded a community-based Parkinson’s Wellness Center in Bloomington, Indiana, Carolyn is now a rehabilitation therapist and a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant with a Health and Human Services degree from the University of Southern Indiana. She has completed multiple trainings and certifications that are Parkinson-specific to serve the Bloomington area with excellence. Some of the certifications Carolyn holds are LSVT BIG ®, PWR! (Parkinson’s Wellness Recovery), and Delay the Disease. Carolyn is also trained and certified from the University of Iowa by the Allied Team Training for Parkinson’s with the Parkinson’s Foundation. This intense curriculum is offered to multi-disciplinary care teams that desire to use the best practices and the latest research in Parkinson’s care. Learn more about Carolyn here.
SARAH ZENNER – Evergreen, Colorado
Sarah was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2018 at age 51. Quickly afterward, she enrolled in a clinical trial, connected with young people in her community living with Parkinson’s, joined a Rock Steady Boxing class, and ramped up her exercise regimen. Living well with Parkinson’s to Sarah means continuing to live an extremely full life of being a hands-on, full-time single mom, while managing her home, working full-time, spending lots of time with friends, hiking, riding her Peloton, attending boxing, yoga and Pilates classes, decorating, doing yard work, and cooking—to name a few. Sarah is most excited to help others advocate for themselves and push forward into a rich and rewarding life living with Parkinson’s. Learn more about Sarah here.
Connect with our ambassadors
We recognize that often the work to live well happens on a more intimate level. It happens in phone calls and on walks and over coffee, when we most need to connect with someone who really understands what we’re going through. Visit our Ambassadors page to connect with someone in your area or anyone you think you would connect well with, regardless of location.