TOPEKA — On April 1, the state of Kansas formally declared the month of April as Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month.
The proclamation ceremony took place on the floor of the Kansas House of Representatives through a resolution introduced by Representative Ronald W. Ryckman, a House Republican from the state’s 115th district.
Representative Ryckman’s decision to sponsor the resolution was due in part to a conversation with J. Basil Dannebohm, an Ellinwood native diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. Dannebohm is a writer residing in Ryckman’s district.
“In 2005, an estimated 5,500 Kansans suffered from Parkinson’s Disease. In 2012 that number increased to an estimated 9,000. What’s even more alarming is that today’s best Parkinson’s drug was discovered in 1967. There’s a clear message in all of this: we need to build awareness and keep funding Parkinson’s research,” said Ryckman.
Dannebohm, along with his mother, Penny Huffman of Salina and Lisa Reser from Ellinwood traveled to Topeka to be on hand for the proclamation.
“By distinguishing the month of April as Parkinson’s Awareness Month, the State of Kansas joins with individuals and organizations committed to promoting awareness and working toward a cure. I offer my sincere appreciation to Representative Ryckman and the entire state legislature for this historic proclamation,” said Dannebohm.
During the visit to the capital, Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, presented Dannebohm with a Kansas flag that was flown over the Capital Building along with a certificate. The group also had a chance to visit with Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer, a friend of Mrs. Huffman.
Joining the group for the ceremony was Angela Lawrence, Executive Director of National Parkinson Foundation Heartland, a chapter of the National Parkinson Foundation, serving Kansas and Western Missouri, dedicated to improving the quality of life for people affected by Parkinson’s disease through programs, education, advocacy and research.
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.