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Celebrities by the dozens recently glided down the red carpet not for an awards show, but for Muhammad Ali's glittering annual Parkinson's disease fundraiser, Celebrity Fight Night. But Ali is just one of many celebrities with Parkinson's disease. The list of well-known people diagnosed with Parkinson's disease includes a former U.S. attorney general, a boxing trainer, a faith leader, and many stars of stage and screen.
With fame, each of these people have worked tirelessly to bring more Parkinson's disease awareness into professions that sometimes value physical perfection over the real health concerns. And with about 1 million Americans living with Parkinson's disease — and an estimated seven to 10 million people worldwide — their work is widely appreciated.
Linda Ronstadt: Parkinson's Takes Her Voice, Not Her Spirit
Known for her rich soprano vocals that fused country music with rock 'n' roll as the lead singer of 60s band Stone Poneys, Linda Ronstadt opened up about her Parkinson's disease diagnosis to AARP The Magazine.
After getting "two very bad tick bites" in the 80s, Ronstadt's health never fully recovered – but she didn't visit a neurologist until she was unable to sing.
"So I didn't know why I couldn't sing — all I knew was that it was muscular, or mechanical. Then, when I was diagnosed with Parkinson's, I was finally given the reason. I now understand that no one can sing with Parkinson's disease. No matter how hard you try. And in my case, I can't sing a note," she told the AARP. Ronstadt believes that she'd been living with Parkinson's symptoms for years but was nonetheless shocked by her diagnosis.
Michael J. Fox: Parkinson's Champion
Michael J. Fox might be among the most famous of people with Parkinson's disease. Many remember him as the fresh-faced young star of the 1980s TV comedy hit Family Ties and the popular Back to the Future movies. Though most people are diagnosed between ages 40 and 60, Fox was diagnosed at age 30 with young-onset Parkinson's disease. He shared his Parkinson's disease diagnosis with the world in 1998, and two years later founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. Though he remains a working actor, and an author, Fox is committed to helping the foundation build Parkinson's disease awareness and raise funds for research into preventing, treating, and curing the disease.
These days, she's learning as much about her neurological condition as possible. She's particularly interested in homeopathic remedies.
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