Another spectacular event was happening among the clouds Saturday evening at Balloons at the Park.



Double-amputee skydiver Dana Bowman was circling above with his parachute and an American flag billowing from behind.


Another spectacular event was happening among the clouds Saturday evening at Balloons at the Park.

Double-amputee skydiver Dana Bowman was circling above with his parachute and an American flag billowing from behind.

As Bowman was descending at Three Sisters Park 59-year-old Joan Snyder read “Symptom Soliloquy,” a poem about Parkinson’s disease by Philip Beckett.

As all eyes were latched to Bowman and the flag, Snyder who has Parkinson’s disease began: “Body shaking, shoulder aching, hand quaking, breath taking, promise making, smile faking, rule breaking — that’s Parkinson’s.”

Snyder, a wife and mother of two, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at 38. For the past five years she has been working hard to raise funds for Central Illinois Advocates of Lives Interrupted by Parkinson’s Support Organization.

CALIPSO, Snyder said, “is very liquid, very fluid. It’s whoever I can manage to rope in at any given time.”
Snyder has worked extensively with Bradley University Associate Professor Dr. Craig Cady.

“The funding they raise goes to my stem cell research lab,” said Cady.

Pointing to Cady, Snyder said, “This man is my hope for a cure.”

Snyder, who was invited to the Balloons at the Park by cousin and Event Director Maury Petrehn, was selling a CD, “Voices from the Dreams We Share” to help raise money for Parkinson’s awareness and research. The CD includes 14 different tracks, artists and styles, ranging from Cajun to Celtic, said Snyder.

CALIPSO sponsored some of the entertainment Saturday afternoon, including music from some of the artists on the CD.

Surrounded by family and friends, Snyder explained how Parkinson’s is “different from the stereotypical old-person’s disease,” that it is “a lot more involved than shaking; it divides families.”

Since her diagnosis, Snyder has had two brain surgeries and collagen injected into her vocal cords to help with speech. She is largely dependent on a wheelchair and takes 40 pills daily. All this and she would not change a thing.

“If I had the choice to live my life without Parkinson’s I wouldn’t take it,” said Snyder. “When God slams shut a door, he opens a window.”

She spoke at the Democratic Unity dinner in Springfield for three years in a row, having met with Lane Evans, also with Parkinson’s disease, and then Sen. Barack Obama. She is also a recipient of the 25 Women in Leadership Award.

“Parkinson’s has taught me to prioritize what’s important in my life. It teaches me that friends come and go, but people who hang with you through thick and thin, those are the real people.”