Tonya first experienced symptoms in 2006, just a few months after she and Chad were married. At the time, Tonya was only 32.
Over the past decade, Chad and Tonya have lived through many of the all-too-common aspects of the disease - a confusing and prolonged diagnosis, followed by years of denial and secrecy, and ultimately acceptance after Tonya underwent the first of two DBS surgeries. After years of struggling with the challenges of the disease, they have found hope and strength in each other and in their involvement with the Parkinson’s community.
The Shoe Maven is Born
In 2014, Tonya launched a fashion and lifestyle blog, The Shoe Maven, to serve as a platform for Parkinson’s fundraising and awareness. With Chad's support, Tonya has hosted a number of fashion-themed fundraisers to benefit The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF), including events in partnership with Bloomingdale’s and Lilly Pulitzer.
In April 2016, Tonya partnered with MJFF in a social media Parkinson's awareness campaign entitled "Heels On, Head Up!". The campaign received coverage from both local and national media outlets.
Sharing the Journey
Tonya has shared her Parkinson's journey at events ranging from health industry corporate meetings to local Parkinson's forums, including the World Parkinson’s Congress in 2016. In 2017, Tonya and Chad participated in the Parkinson's Policy Forum on Capitol Hill and met with lawmakers regarding healthcare reform issues that directly impact Parkinson's patients.
More recently, Tonya and Chad have taken up running with Team Fox to expand their fundraising and awareness goals. In November 2017, they completed the NYC Marathon, and they have plans to participate in several future races.
The Next Step...
The PD Connect podcast is a vehicle for Tonya and Chad to share their individual and collective experiences (good and bad) as a couple living with Parkinson's. It is a tool to develop a deeper, broader connection to the Parkinson's community, and to connect the members of that community with valuable information and resources. It is an opportunity to share the stories of extraordinary people who courageously face the challenge of this terrible disease everyday.