For the third consecutive year, the Kansas House of Representatives will formally declare the month of April as Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month.
The proclamation will take place on the house floor on Thursday, April 2nd. This year, the resolution will be introduced by Representative Fred Patton (R-Topeka) and Representative Gail Finney (D-Wichita).
For Patton, a freshman legislator, sponsoring the resolution has special meaning.
“My mother-in-law has Parkinson’s Disease so to be able to bring some recognition to this disease really hits close to home,” said Patton.
Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month was first proclaimed by the Kansas House in 2013 when it was sponsored by Representative Ronald Ryckman (R-Meade). In 2014, the resolution was once again sponsored by Ryckman and co-sponsored by Representative Marshall Christmann (R-Lyons).
Each year, the resolution has been coordinated by J. Basil Dannebohm. In the summer of 2012 Dannebohm was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. Since that time, he has been an advocate for Parkinson’s Disease research, treatment and awareness. In 2015, he briefly served in the Kansas House of Representatives, representing the 113th District. Dannebohm was the first legislator in state history to serve with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. He resigned due to health complications.
“Representative Dannebohm made the very difficult decision to retire from office, said Patton. “I can’t imagine being faced with such a painful choice. In the short time we served together, I was proud to call him both a colleague and a friend. This year, he so badly wanted to carry the resolution. For me to do so in his absence, at his request, is a privilege.”
Upon hearing the news that the proclamation made it on the calendar, Dannebohm expressed his gratitude.
“I am incredibly grateful to Speaker Merrick and the Kansas House of Representatives for once again taking time to recognize Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month,” said Dannebohm. “The Kansas House joins with individuals and organizations around the world committed to promoting awareness and working toward a cure. I am especially moved that my former colleagues Representative Patton and Representative Finney offered their support and were willing, without hesitation, to accept my request to sponsor this resolution.”
In 2005, an estimated 5,500 Kansans suffered from Parkinson’s Disease. By 2012 that number had increased to an estimated 9,000.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects nearly one million people in the US. Although promising research is being conducted, there is currently no cure for or definitive cause of Parkinson’s disease.