Jim Dehart Jr. & Parkinson’s Disease
Working, Living and Adjusting
We talked to Jim DeHart Jr. about his Parkinson’s diagnosis and how he’s adjusting. Jim is co-chair of Moving Day Cleveland, the annual walk for Parkinson’s set for June 23. For more information go to movingdaywalk.org.
Tell us about yourself. Your age, married, kids, grandkids? What do you do for a living?
I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2013 at age 52 and am now 57. I have been with my partner, Melissa, for 12 years and we reside in Kent. My daughter Danielle is 31. I have worked as CFO at The McLean Company (a construction equipment dealer) for the past 19 years.
What were your symptoms?
I was having tremors in my right arm for about a year and was first diagnosed with benign essential tremors. After another year of various testing, I was also diagnosed with Parkinson’s. In addition to the tremors in my right arm, I was experiencing loss of manual dexterity and increased fatigue.
How has the disease progressed and impacted your daily life? What accommodations have you made?
My Parkinson’s has challenged me with slowing down my cognitive thinking, ability to stand for long periods of time, walking long distances, driving, choking at night and an even greater amount of increased fatigue. The biggest impact on my daily life is everything taking longer than it used to and not having enough energy to accomplish all I would like to accomplish on any given day. I am fortunate that The McLean family has been incredibly accommodating.
Before your diagnosis, did you know anything about PD? What were your expectations? Any surprises?
Prior to my diagnosis, I identified Parkinson’s disease with Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali. The biggest surprise was being diagnosed at my age. I thought PD was a disease that affected people in their 70s.
What do you want people to know about PD? What would you say to someone who is newly diagnosed?
It is extremely important to have an understanding and helpful partner, along with supportive family and friends. I would tell someone with a new diagnosis to learn to live life differently. Accept rather than become frustrated with the slowness of your day. Maintain a sense of humor. Take time for the things you enjoy — in my case, that is music. Live your life fully — don’t let PD stop you from enjoying all the things you love in life.
How important are events such as Moving Day? Had you attended it prior to your diagnosis?
Events like Moving Day are a great opportunity for everyone connected with PD to gather as a community and raise funds for exceptional programs and research. Moving Day began in Cleveland in 2016. I was humbled by the amount of support I have from my family and friends. I would encourage everyone with PD to attend.
What are you doing for fun this summer?
I plan to enjoy working in my yard, taking vacations, and spending time with family and friends.
Get Moving for Parkinson’s
June 23 at Wade Oval
The third annual Moving Day Cleveland is 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. June 23 at Wade Oval in University Circle.
This fun and inspiring event — held throughout the nation — brings families and friends together to raise awareness and to fight against Parkinson’s disease.
This celebration of movement will have not only a walk around the Oval, but also a kids’ area, resource pavilion, and two movement pavilions featuring different ways to get moving. Research shows that increased movement helps PD patients manage their symptoms.
Free parking will be available for the first 300 cars at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center.