Each month, we spotlight an inspiring story from someone in our Team DPF® community who is helping to improve the quality of life of people living with Parkinson’s by raising funds. Today, we are happy to feature Diane Kephart, a personal trainer in West Grove, PA.
WHICH EVENT DID YOU PARTICIPATE IN?
I am currently taking part in Team DPF's Tri to Victory, a virtual event with an 11-week training plan where all the participants meet weekly on Zoom to learn from our training coach, Coach Frank, support each other, and share challenges and victories. Each of us has designed our own triathlon, and this weekend we'll complete our events in our chosen locations across the country.
What has your journey been like since diagnosis?
As a personal trainer (and therefore someone very aware of my own muscle movements), I began noticing differences and changes in my muscle movements – tremors. I started wondering if it was excessive caffeine, or lack of sleep, or over-exercising.
When my neurologist told me in August 2020 that I had Parkinson’s, I thought he was crazy. Old people have Parkinson’s. I'm too young. Because the appointment took place during the pandemic, I was alone when I received the diagnosis, and that was overwhelming. What scared me the most were all the unknowns.
I didn't know how to tell people or what to say. Why isn't there a pamphlet about this that you can pick up as you leave the doctor's office? I told only my immediate family members, and while searching online for a support group of people in my stage of life, I was disheartened that nearby groups were much older than me and in a different place in life.
Then I stumbled across the Davis Phinney Foundation. I remember being so glad to find a section dedicated to YOPD! I found the Ambassador group and learned that Amy Montemarano, a woman in my stage of life, lived nearby! When I reached out to her, she responded right away, and she was so real and fun and normal. She talked me down, told me it was going to be okay, personally recommended a ladies' support group, and invited me to join Team DPF and participate in Tri to Victory.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO JOIN TEAM DPF?
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I joined the Tri to Victory event, but I found it rewarding to be making these connections with the other Tri to Victory teammates. It was a turning point for me. You're not alone!
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BEST MEMORY AS PART OF TEAM DPF?
What led me to the Davis Phinney Foundation was my need to connect with someone who understood what I was going through. I found Amy, who geographically and age-wise was that person for me. But I still wasn't ready to tell people about my diagnosis. Although none of my clients mentioned my tremor during personal training sessions, when you are demonstrating movements and there is a slight tremor, a weakness on one side of your body, and balance issues, eventually someone will notice. Soon, though, I got tired of not being honest with myself. I realized that generally people are cheering for you and want to support you, but if they don't know what you're dealing with, they can't support you in the best way.
So, I decided to turn my Tri to Victory into a fundraiser for the Foundation and use the fundraiser to let my community know about my Parkinson's diagnosis. This made telling people easier; I had a purpose behind the announcement, which is supporting a great cause. The responses from my community about my diagnosis have been a pleasant surprise and have pushed me to keep training.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE WHO FINDS THEMSELVES IN YOUR SHOES?
Keep searching. You will find the connection somewhere, and the connection is what has helped so much. You'll always be loved and supported by people in your life, but if you’re like me, commonality is something that you’ll need to find. The Davis Phinney Foundation Ambassadors opened the door to this for me, as does the YOPD Women’s Council. I look forward to those sessions.
The Davis Phinney Foundation does such a good job of education and support, and the more spokespeople there are, the more others can learn about the Foundation, and the more good will be done. Grassroots, man!
DO YOU HAVE A TEAM DPF OR FUNDRAISING STORY YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE?
Your story, like Diane’s, could be featured on our blog and Facebook page so others can learn from your experiences. Submit Your Team DPF Moments of Victory® Story now.
If you’re not yet part of Team DPF but you’d like to join us in raising money to help people live well with Parkinson’s today, contact our team to get started.