Iowans Raise Money for Parkinson’s, Highlight Often Forgotten Demographic

URBANDALE, Iowa -- On Saturday Iowans gathered at the Lifetime Athletic Club in Urbandale to raise money to fight Parkinson’s through fitness. However, the people they were focusing on only make up a small percentage of the Parkinson’s community; those who got it young.

“It's kind of a shock at 30 years-old. You're not really expecting...people hear Parkinson’s and they think of someone more elderly and so when we found out it was kind of more of that shock factor and kinda that denial” said Tanner Hansen.

Hansen was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s a little over a year ago. He said getting through that year hasn't been easy.

“We've had kind of a rough year. I got hit with depressions and anxiety real bad, and we made the decision last December of 2017 for me to stop working, and I really enjoyed my job, but the mental side of Parkinson’s really got a hold of me” said Hansen.

He's now the latest patient to join Craig Haas and the Iowa chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association. The workout raided money going to over 40 support groups throughout the state of Iowa. Haas understands where Hansen is coming from, he was diagnosed in his 40s back in 2015.

“It can be a really lonely place to be because we're only about 10% of the population and that was my experience being diagnosed at the age of 45. Even aside from the Parkinson’s you have to deal with this diagnosis when you still have mortgage, you still have kids in school so the challenges to your life are completely different” said Haas.

Haas says the workout is the perfect way to raise money for two reasons: One, being part of a support group is a great way for patients to deal with the mental side of Parkinson’s; and two, physical exercise helps fight it.

“Working out is the only thing clinically proven to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease. So, all of the medication and things we take help with our symptoms and help maintain our lifestyle, but actually exercise is the only thing clinically proven to slow the progression” said Haas.

Haas estimates the event raised between four and five thousand dollars.