My Life Beyond Parkinson's
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Selling products for Parkinson's Disease Research
ALL profits ARE DONATED to the Medical College of wisconsin for neuroscience research
Gray Matter Matters
was founded by Sharon Kailas who has been impacted by Parkinson's Disease in the most personal way.
Here's her story:
Everyone has a story. Here’s mine.
In the fall of 2011, I noticed a tremor in the middle finger of my right hand. I spent the next year going to doctors, chiropractors and massage therapists trying to stop the tremor. It wasn’t until I connected with Bonnie Timarac, a family friend, that I made an appointment at Froedtert Hospital with Dr. Bradley Hiner. Following the appointment in the fall of 2012, my husband and I met a group of professionals that would become our team, our friends and our supporters. Dr. Hiner, Vicki Conte, Nurse Vicki and the neurological team supported my transition to living the life of a person with Parkinson’s. I was a “Closet” patient for a year as my husband and I navigated the world of having a “serious” medical condition. Once our daughters, Sammy and Gabby became part of my team, life became easier.
With the support of my family, I began a new life that has proven to be more fulfilling than I ever thought possible. I continue to work full time and enjoy every moment. Bonnie Timarac also had this great idea for me to advocate for myself as a member of the Medical College of Wisconsin Neuroscience Research Board. Once I realized that ultimately I am responsible for my health and wellness even through there are so many family members, friends and colleagues that are part of my team, I took action. My husband and I have become avid ballroom dancers at Fred Astaire Studios in Mequon, Wisconsin, where we have so much fun in addition to providing exercises to support my condition. I also had this outlandish idea about creating a company, whose profits I would donate to the Medical College of Wisconsin for neuroscience research. Given connections and networking, I have created Gray Matter Matters, LLC. Throughout the process of creating a company I have met amazing people who have donated their time, ideas, money and resources to support my idea. Straight-Up, Inc., Christopher Morgan Fulfillment Center and Sattell, Johnson, Appeel & Co, S.C. have been instrumental with my success. Thank you!
Wow! As of November 2020, it is hard to remember back 9 years when I was first diagnosed with Parkinson's. I continue to live a enriched life surrounded by family and friends. Parkinson's is my normal, although I basically ignore it. I continue to work full time as the Director of Pupil Services for the West Bend School District and really enjoy my job. Of course, my team and other leaders are a tremendous help and offer to help with some of the tasks that could put me in danger. For example, carrying things down the stairs is not something I would do, and I am very comfortable asking for help. My husband continues to be my biggest support and ensures that I am pampered when needed.
My ballroom dance lessons continue and I compete in local competitions, which keeps the rigor high. Dance is something that I can do year round and the Fred Astaire staff have become an important part of my life. I also depend on yoga to help with balance and core strength. I have been a part of a team that has started a Parkinson's awareness group in Mequon. We are aligned with the Wisconsin Parkinson's Association and provide information and guidance through monthly meetings.
We are currently in a pandemic, COVID 19, which hopefully will be a distant memory by the next time I update my story. Unfortunately, the pandemic has delayed one daughter's wedding and kept my other daughter in Toronto where she lives with her husband. Luckily, the stay in Toronto ends in June at which time they will return to St. Louis. The biggest lesson that I have learned (again) is that my family is my foundation, and we need to take care of each other.
As of today, Gray Matter Matters exists. While I will be selling ties, scarves, socks, etc that all have the brain icon on them, it is the people that I have met, and who have enriched my life, that have made the biggest impact on me. I have no idea how much money I can raise, but I do know that there are cures for neurological disorders. Every morning when I wake up, I have a choice about who I am and what I do. I choose to make a difference.