CD sales fund research

Marianne Gillespie
Joan Snyder shows her newest endeavor, a CD to raise funds for Parkinson’s disease research, “Voices from the Dreams We Share,” and a framed reproduction of Preston Jackson’s artwork for the CD’s cover. Snyder also is wearing a T-shirt that is being used for fundraising as well.

Joan Snyder of Rome refuses to be silenced by Parkinson’s disease, and she finds new avenues to raise money for research.

On March 18 she hosted a gala event showcasing her newest endeavor — a collection of music on CD, “Voices from the Dreams We Share: Songs of Hope & Courage” — timed with thoughts of April as National Parkinson’s Awareness Month.

Amid Snyder’s favorite colors of navy blue and gold, those attending the release party at the Cornerstone Building in Peoria ate food supplied by Butcher Block, Avanti’s, Chillicothe Subway, Spotted Cow, Betty Sue’s in Henry, Trefzger’s, Rhythm Kitchen and more.

Music was, of course, the theme, including Leveetown, a band that regularly plays at Riverbeach Pub in Rome, as well as many of the musicians on the CD.

Many of those who contributed songs to the CD either have Parkinson’s disease or have loved ones diagnosed with the disease or are friends of Snyder.

“The reality of why I think people should buy the CD is because everyone who donated a song to this wants to be seen as an artist, not a victim,” said Snyder.

“We don’t ask for anything special, but we would like to have a cure because Parkinson’s disease is not much fun. By putting this together, I have made new friends. It supports the stem cell research that Dr. Craig Cady does.”

Snyder said she is a big supporter of Cady’s research, proven by how much money she has raised for him to continue his stem cell research.

“He talks to you like you’re an equal,” said Snyder. “He doesn’t use a bunch of big, medical terms.”

Snyder created Central Illinois Advocates for Lives Interrupted by Parkinson’s Support Organization, which largely supports Cady’s research.

“Before this event — in the last 15 years — I have raised more than $80,000.”

Snyder regularly talks to fellow Parkies, as they call themselves, not only in the United States but also throughout the world through Internet chatrooms.

Three friends from Belgium even came to the gala, including one who is known as a Parkie poet.

Snyder is also the author of the book, “Voices from the Parking Lot,” so the CD had to continue that same theme, Snyder said.

“When I first conceived the idea — I set a standard for how I wanted it to sound, and a vision, and I remained true to that. I believed I did the best I could,” said Snyder, who served as executive producer. Bill Duncan of Dunlap was the producer of the CD, which offers 14 songs with a variety of genres, including blues, country Cajun, gypsy jazz, Celtic and more.

Jimmie “Toad” Turner is included on the CD with “Golden Tennis Shoes,” a song written by his father-in-law.

Turner had polio as a child and now has Parkinson’s.

Others included on the CD are Hannah Offutt, Ken Carlyle, Barry Cloyd, the Robin Crowe Band, Vanessa Davis Band, Mark Solomon and more.

Artist Preston Jackson created the artwork for the cover, and poetry is included inside the booklet. (One framed reproduction of his artwork is available for sale.)

Snyder dedicated the liner notes to her mother, Norma Blessington, who died shortly before the gala.

Snyder also noted that James Shrader’s song, “Never Surrender,” is what inspired her to start the CD project.

“The first time I played this in a chatroom, people said, ‘That’s depressing,’” Snyder said about the song, “Never Surrender.”

“I said, ‘That’s not depressing.’ It’s all about hope. This is a life sentence, not a death sentence.’”

Snyder’s life with Parkinson’s began in 1989, when she was 36 years old.

Her husband, Stan, was overseas in Desert Storm, and she tended bar at Willow Knolls Country Club.

She began noticing her foot was dragging as she walked to tables. When she held three beers they would spill over as she walked, and she could not cut fruit.

“Everyone said I had a pinched nerve.”

Not thinking any more about it, Stan came home and they took their children for a walk.

He asked her, “When are you going to take care of yourself?” she recalled.

She said she told him there was nothing wrong, but she knew the stress of trying to hide her problems just made the symptoms worse.

A local neurologist said she had all the symptoms of early-onset Parkinson’s disease, but would not diagnose her. She went to Mayo’s, and after many “crazy” tests, they sent her home with the diagnosis.

She had two pallidotomies, with the first successful, and the last she had a stroke when doctors pulled the probes out.

“It was only through the grace of God and the women at St. Edward that I made it through,” Snyder said.

Now taking 40 pills a day, she continues to fight the disease and give others hope.

“We need our voices to be heard,” said Snyder.

To help with that, the CD is $15, and a long sleeve or short sleeve T-shirt in pink, hot pink or black is $15. If buying both, the cost is $30. Call her at 579-3026 or by email at

Snyder’s voice remains strong in the liner notes on the CD.

“... We will find our voices. Each will be as different as snowflakes and the many genres of music on this CD, and we will come together to sing our songs of hope and courage.”