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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Gimme, Gimme, Gimme

As I sit at my computer desk, (yes, I still happily use a desktop PC, complete with a wired mouse and keyboard) trying to come up with an end of 2015 blog story, an email pops up from a Parkinson's Disease non-profit asking for a last minute, end of the year "tax deductible" donation to keep them afloat. Every few hours, for the last few weeks, they pop up. Some from newly created Parkinson's groups I've never even heard of. 

As much as I'd like to be able to donate, the reality is "tax-deductible" means nothing to me. My income is so low, I'm not required to file tax returns, but must anyway to renew my Arizona Property Tax Exemption for Disabled Individuals. 

Some state legislator said, "Let's make people who are disabled, some cognitively impaired, complete both Federal and State Tax forms, with the bottom lines often being negative numbers, just to prove they don't have huge incomes, so they can save a few hundred dollars on their property taxes each year." Who says the government has no sense of humor? 

Sorry, my mind tends to wander. This explains why I head to the kitchen to eat breakfast and end up picking long blonde hairs up off the area rug instead. Okay, where was I? Oh, yeah, working on a story. Ding! There's another email. 

Maybe I should write about all these non-profits. It seems to me there are way too many of them, all competing for a limited amount of funds. Before you start shouting at me, I don't have anything against groups advocating for Parkinson's. But do we really NEED several dozen of them? All paying salaries for management and staff. Many duplicating the same things the others do. To be honest, I don't know why many of them were created. Ding! Another email. 

I'm pretty sure I know WHY Michael J. Fox started his own foundation. He wants a CURE and is willing to use his clout to help fund research. I also know why the lobbying group PAN was formed. To push the Parkinson's "agenda" to Congress and occasionally succeed. Though no matter how many letters and emails I sent to MY so-called representatives, I always got the same "Party-line" response back from them. Congress is only interested in getting re-elected and keeping their big-money donors happy. So unless they are personally impacted by Parkinson's, they don't really care about those of us living with it. Ding! Another email.       

Every year, I get invited to attend the PAN forum in Washington D.C. The registration fee is $300 and that doesn't include travel costs and hotels! That's almost half my monthly income. I also get invited to PAN's Morris K Udall dinner, which is even more expensive. 

Speaking of food, I'm hungry. Did I eat breakfast? Oh, look, there's a dust bunny hiding under my desk. Ding! Another email. 

Oops, sorry. I got distracted again. Back to my story. I've attended several Parkinson's conferences over the years, sponsored by various non-profits. The one I enjoyed the most was the Davis Phinney Victory Summit, they focus on LIVING with Parkinson's. 
Davis Phinney
I helped set up a half-day conference here in Yuma (with Medtronic as a sponsor) and got my favorite Doctors to come speak. But, after you've been to a couple of Parkinson's conferences, they get boring. The only part of them I enjoy is meeting others with PD whom I've only met online. But due to the format of these conferences, you don't have ANY time to socialize. Ding! Another email.

I have a little bit of extra money saved, so who should I give it to? I've already "Paid it Forward" at the Davis Phinney Victory Summit I attended in Las Vegas. I sponsored someone during the Unity Walk as well. I sent a donation to Wikipedia because I use it for info often. I've sent free copies of my Parkinson's Humor book to people who I thought might need a laugh or two. I've given local Parkies rides to the Doctor or to our support group meetings. Ding! Another email. 

Who has helped the Yuma area people with Parkinson's the most this year? Who has helped me the most? Maybe I should use this as a deciding factor. In this case, the answer is easy. It's the instructor who teaches the SilverSneakers® exercise classes. I think I'll give her an end of the year tip! It won't be tax deductible, but that doesn't matter.