Kerry Howard takes a walk in the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge on Tuesday, April 3, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Kerry Howard takes a walk in the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge on Tuesday, April 3, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Parkinson’s advocate heads from Juneau to Capitol Hill

Kerry Howard is on a mission to Washington.

Kerry Howard is on a mission to Washington.

The 64-year-old Juneau resident will be in the nation’s capital Sept. 9-10 to attend the Parkinson’s Policy Forum. She’ll be meeting with activists from across the nation to discuss patient issues and needs.

“The chance to join advocates like myself to share our Parkinson’s journey and show our nation’s leaders how they can use their votes to support Parkinson’s research and care is impactful,” Howard said.

Howard was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2016 but hasn’t let that slow her down. She regularly participates in programs at Pavitt Health & Fitness and is an avid photographer.

“Although day-to-day activities can be more challenging with this disease, I believe in volunteering my time, energy, and effort to try to make a difference,” she said.

On Sept. 10, Howard will meet with Alaska’s congressional delegation to talk about policy opportunities that can help Parkinson’s patients.

The forum will feature advocacy training sessions as well as presentations on Parkinson’s research.

According to a press release from the Forum’s website, there will be three areas of focus this year: the economic burden of Parkinson’s disease, an out-of-pocket spending cap for Medicare, and increased access to mental health care.

Howard attended the forum in 2018 with a group of advocates from Anchorage, and the group met with all three of Alaska’s members of Congress.

“Last year’s forum focused on funding for a National Neurological Conditions Surveillance System, which will create a database of value to researchers,” Howard told the Empire in an email. “It is my understanding that Alaska’s delegation supported this funding, which is something anyone who has a neurological disease can be happy about,” she said.

Howard added that there was a bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Parkinson’s disease which none of Alaska’s delegation have signed onto and that she would like to see them do so.

Because most advocacy goes through the federal level, Howard said there weren’t any statewide efforts in Alaska she was aware of.

“One of the best resources we have in Juneau is other Parkinson’s patients,” she said. “We are a small but supportive group of people who help each other live quality lives by exercising, socializing and sharing information.”

The forum is co-hosted by the Parkinson’s Foundation and the Michael J. Fox Foundation, both of which advocate for Parkinson’s awareness and research.

One of the key goals of the forum is to illustrate the importance of federally-funded research towards a cure to elected officials.

Over a million Americans are affected by Parkinson’s disease, which is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is characterized by a usually progressive loss of motor control as well as mental and behavioral changes.

Most people develop Parkinson’s after the age of 50, according to NIH, and the disease affects 50 percent more men than women. Alaska had 7.6 deaths from Parkinson’s per 100,000 people, according to the most recent data in 2017 from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or psegall@juneauempire.com.


More in News

In this July 13, 2007, file photo, workers with the Pebble Mine project test drill in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska, near the village of Iliamma. (AP Photo / Al Grillo)
Pebble developer files appeal with Army Corps

The Army Corps of Engineers rejected Pebble Limited Partnership’s application in November.

This August 2019 photos shows a redline at Treadwell Arena designed by Tsimshian artist Abel Ryan. The arena is adding new weekly events to its schedule, City and Borough of Juneau announced. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Treadwell Arena adds new weekly events

Hockey and open skate are on the schedule.

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)
COVID at a glance for Friday, Jan. 22

The most recent state and local numbers.

A Coast Guard Station Juneau 45-foot Response Boat-Medium patrols Auke Bay during an exercise in 2018. A response boat similar to the one in the photo was struck by a laser near Ketchikan on Saturday, Jan. 17, prompting an investigation into the crime. (Lt. Brian Dykens / U.S. Coast Guard)
Coast Guard wants information after laser pointed at boat

“Laser strikes jeopardize the safety of our boat crews…”

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)
COVID at a glance for Thursday, Jan. 21

The most recent state and local numbers.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy addresses the public during a virtual town hall on Sept. 15, 2020 in Alaska. ( Courtesy Photo / Austin McDaniel, Office of the Governor)
Dunleavy pitches dividend change amid legislative splits

No clear direction has emerged from lawmakers.

Joar Leifseth Ulsom, right, wearing a bib with ExxonMobil lettering on it, congratulates Peter Kaiser on his win in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Nome, Alaska. The world’s most famous sled dog race has lost another major sponsor as the Iditarod prepares for a scaled-back version of this year’s race because of the pandemic, officials said Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. ExxonMobil confirmed to The Associated Press that the oil giant will drop its sponsorship of the race. (Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News)
ExxonMobil becomes latest sponsor to sever Iditarod ties

The world’s most famous sled dog race has lost another major sponsor.

Has it always been a police car? (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Friday, Jan. 22, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read