Living Magazine, July 2020
– After Dr. George Ackerman’s mother passed away at 69 years old on Jan. 1, 2020, he wanted to honor her and continue contributing to the Parkinson’s disease cause.
““It was a horrible battle that we lost,” Ackerman said. “I did not know how to bring change.” With the help of his family, he decided to create a purple wristband for Parkinson’s awareness, with the design stating, “In memory of Sharon Riff Ackerman,” “Parkinson’s Disease Awareness,” and “togetherforsharon.”
What started off as a simple bracelet, created to as a tribute to his mother, however, became a movement, Ackerman said. “One of my friends, and a family member I gave a wristband to, took a picture of their wrist and shared it with me. Soon after another person sent a picture and then another and it took off and brought tears to my eyes. I was getting requests from people around world. Four thousand bands around the world have been sent.”
After experiencing such “love and support,” George asked himself “Why can’t we spread this type of love, support and awareness around the world?” After that, with the help of his wife, “togetherforsharon” was born “because we were all able to come together in her honor.”
“We started togetherforsharon as a family for the purpose of keeping my mother’s memory alive and to share the message of Parkinson’s Awareness and hope for a cure,” Ackerman said. “I don’t want to stop until we find a cure. I don’t want other people to go through this.”
George Ackerman and his family have been paying for the wristbands and sending them to people, without accepting any money in return. Instead, he simply asks that those who want to help should donate funds directly to the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, https://apdaparkinson.donordrive.com/campaign/togetherforsharon or TeamFox (Michael J. Fox Foundation) https://fundraise.michaeljfox.org/tf-2020/togetherforsharon?tab=MyPage or the Parkinson’s Foundation http://www3.parkinson.org/site/TR?team_id=50439&fr_id=3168&pg=team in memory of his mother. They also ask those who receive a bracelet to post a picture of themselves wearing the bracelet on their favorite social media platform. (Photos can be viewed at https://www.togetherforsharon.com.) The Ackermans have pledged to match an additional $1,000 per year in Sharon’s memory.
Sharon Riff Ackerman lived with Parkinson’s for decades, her son said, and it started to affect her daily life in 2014. “Up until then, she was able to spend her favorite day of the week, Sunday, with us in the back yard, blowing bubbles with her grand kids, eating the best meals we could find. Sharon Riff Ackerman was my mother and my best friend. We spoke 10 times per day.”
Sharing the Message of Parkinson’s Disease Awareness
Living Magazine, July 2020 Issue
By writer Joyce Moed