An interview with Musician Mick Beaman on October 2, 2023 by George Ackerman, Ph.D, J.D.
Please tell me a little about your background.
I was born and raised in Iowa. I could stop there. In some circumstances that would be enough to describe a multitude of character pros and/or cons depending on who you listen to. If you’ve ever seen an episode of The Andy Griﬃth Show, you’ve seen my childhood.
Science and medicine were light years behind where we are today. There had been no studies or papers written on potential long term eﬀects of pesticides leaching through the soil, heavy metals in the groundwater etc. And, because of our ignorance, my friends and I could often be found watching the crop duster coat the farmer’s ﬁeld from the safety of my back yard located approximately 20 yards from the last row of corn.
I remember how we used to rinse ourselves oﬀ with the hose after the duster was ﬁnished because our parents didn’t want us tracking any of that stuﬀ inside the house. The water was always ice cold because it came directly from a well on our property which we shared with two other neighbors. I can still taste that crisp, fresh water right out of the garden hose, and how refreshing it felt running through the sprinklers or spraying the water over my head and neck to cool oﬀ on those hot and humid summer days.
Growing up in rural Iowa meant that for the most part, my diet was mostly organic before organic really became a thing. My family’s garden provided much of our nourishment needs and was conveniently located on top of the well and right next to the farmer’s corn ﬁeld.
My teens and early adulthood went by in a blur of endless days and sleepless nights. I ran away from home and legally emancipated myself before I turned 17 (a conversation for another time). I attended school during the days and worked second or third shifts in the evenings to pay for my apartment and living expenses.
At some point during all that craziness, I discovered the magical mystery of music. I found my escape from stress through listening to whatever I could ﬁnd and learning how to write and compose my own pieces. My grandmother had told me on occasions that I feel deeper than most people, and that’s what made me a good writer and performer.
After a lot of hard work and even more luck, I sold my ﬁrst song to a label when I was just a few years out of high school. That was the beginning of a career in music that has so far lasted a little over three decades.
Can you tell me more about your advocacy?
I have been a keynote speaker and featured musical act at several Parkinson’s conferences and fundraisers across the country throughout the past twenty years. I have also organized fundraisers and concerts with proceeds going to various Parkinson’s organizations. I’ve set up several support groups in diﬀerent areas which had neither or limited resources available to the local PD community.
What is your passion and how did you get involved in Parkinson’s awareness and hope for a cure?
My passion is letting people who are eﬀected by Parkinson’s, (whether they are PWP’s, care partners, family, or friends) know that they are not alone. There are resources and people who can identify with the Parkinson’s lifestyle and the changes it brings. As long as I have a voice, I will be one for those who don’t.
What type of goals do individuals with Parkinson’s have when seeing your advocacy?
Some are looking to see if a guy with Parkinson’s can really play and sing. Some are looking for a reason to hope. Some are looking for motivation and positive vibes. Some people are looking for a “patient’s perspective” in a plain and relatable language.
What type of training and how long are the programs?
My training began in 2001 when I was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. Speaking engagements typically run for an hour with Q&A afterwards. Music performances are anywhere from 2-3 hours depending on the venue.
What eﬀect can your advocacy have on an individual with Parkinson’s?
Hopefully a person leaves with a better understanding of what is happening to their body and mind because of Parkinson’s. I also hope that people leave with a sense of empowerment over their care and lifestyle. People leave knowing that they are never truly alone in this struggle.
What would you like to see as a future goal for your advocacy?
More speaking engagements. I love meeting new people, sharing stories and solutions.
What events do you participate in?
Local and national events involving organizations such as APDA, the Michael J Fox Foundation, NPF and other conferences and fundraisers.
How does your advocacy also assist caregivers?
Faith, hope and love is good for everyone isn’t it?
How can someone get in touch?
What is your website?
How can others also become advocates for awareness?
Contact me and I’m happy to share useful tips and web links. Also, a good start would be to sit in on some local support group meetings. Get to know your teammates who are in the ﬁght with you. Once you start hanging out with others in the PD community, you’ll ﬁnd the advocacy and motivation to help others will come more naturally.
If you had one ﬁnal statement or quote you could leave for the Parkinson’s community, what would it be?
Get up and choose to have a good day. How we react to our situation at any given moment is always a choice. Parkinson’s sucks, but within that suckage it is possible to ﬁnd love and the strength to keep on keeping on.