An interview with Dawn Howard from Dawn’s Hope Inc & TikTok Advocacy on July 25, 2023 by George Ackerman, Ph.D, J.D.
Please tell me a little about your background and what got you involved with awareness.
I am currently a 52-year-old female, who is divorced with 1 daughter. I will never forget the year. I was diagnosed by my general doctor in September 2011. I was scheduled to graduate college with honors in December 2011 with my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and Human Resources.
One day in September, I fell and tripped over a curb while walking into my office at work. I ended up breaking a couple of bones in my left foot. This was just the start of my Parkinson’s adventure. As my foot was healing, I noticed that the toes on my left foot were curling inward and a friend of mine noticed that my left pinky finger was shaking.
I scheduled an appointment right way thinking that I must have done something to a nerve on the left side of my body when I fell. Boy, did I get a shock that day. It was not nerve damage but Parkinson’s.
I am no stranger to advocating for a cause. My mother-in-law had MS, and both my aunt and my cousin have MS. My mother-in-law had several fundraisers for MS, and she had established a dog rescue group. I helped her advocate for a cure for MS and helped her spread awareness for her rescue group.
In 2022, I started advocating for Parkinson’s and childhood trauma.
Can you tell me more about your advocacy?
I started my advocacy in 2022 to bring awareness to Parkinson’s Disease, depression, and childhood trauma.
I published a book in 2022 called “Living with Parkinson’s, Depression, and Childhood Trauma available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The 1 first chapter of the book is dedicated to Parkinson’s. What it is current treatments, risk factors and statistics.
What is your passion and how did you get involved in Parkinson’s awareness and hope for a cure?
My advocacy has several parts. I wanted to bring awareness to Parkinson’s, child abuse, depression and to bring awareness how many people are struggling to keep health insurance.
You see, I worked as a client administrator for COBRA Insurance. COBRA insurance is a Federally Mandated program that employers with 20 or more employees must offer to employees upon severing employment if certain qualifying events are met. Many of my clients who enrolled in the health insurance because they lost their jobs due to health reasons. The cost of the monthly premiums was extremely high. Not only were the premiums high but my clients had to meet high deductibles and copayments.
My goal for my book, was to first spread awareness for Parkinson’s by explaining what it is, a percentage of my book sales and the foundation that I was establishing was to be donated to the Michael J Fox Foundation, Parkinson’s Foundation and the rest was to be donated to my 501©-charity called Dawn’s Hope Inc.
This interview is dedicated to my Uncle Lucky who passed away a couple of years ago from complications from Parkinson’s.
What type of goals do individuals with Parkinson’s awareness have when working with you?
I had a stroke in June 2022. My foundation Dawn’s Hope Inc. was just getting up on the ground. Unfortunately, due to the timing of my stroke and the setback from the complications of it; I had to close the foundation. At the time, I couldn’t speak, and I was having issues with memory and problem solving. I only had a few Board Members and only a few volunteers. They all had their own full-time jobs and were not able to assist me with the day-to-day duties needed to get the foundation functioning.
My goal, now that I am better, is to continue working with others to spread awareness in many various social platforms. Even though my foundation had to be shut down, I am still donating the proceeds made off the book to the Michael J. Fox and Parkinson’s Foundation just as I had planned.
What effect can your advocacy have on an individual with Parkinson’s awareness?
I believe that the more people purchase my book; they will gain knowledge on Parkinson’s, depression, and child abuse and at the same time unknowingly be donating (profits from sales) to the charities mentioned above.
What would you like to see as a future goal for your advocacy?
I also hope that by the time that they finish the book that they would also donate more to these organizations. Knowledge is power, and together we can fight to end Parkinson’s, provide better treatments, or at the very least slow progression.
What events do you participate in?
I currently have not participated in any events. I live in a small town in Missouri, and they have not had any close events. Hopefully this will change soon, and I will be researching to see that this changes.
How does this also assist the caregivers?
My book will help caregivers understand the disease better and will give a perspective from someone who has the disease.
How can someone get in touch? What is your website?
My email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you had one final statement or quote you could leave for the Parkinson community, what would it be?
“Strength is what keeps you holding you on…Faith is what assures you that everything matters, but it is Hope that keeps us moving on when everything is going wrong.”