SOUTHAMPTON – DopaFit, a Parkinson’s disease movement center, is currently spearheading a new initiative called “Limitless.”
The goal of this initiative is to empower people with Parkinson’s disease to redefine their lives by giving them a chance to do something they once loved.
The center focuses on helping people with Parkinson’s slow the progression of their disease with exercise and other pharmacological treatments. According to Chad Moir, founder and CEO of DopaFit Inc, one of the first questions the center asks a new member is if there is anything that they did before being diagnosed with Parkinson’s that they wish they could do again. This question is where the “Limitless” initiative stems from.
“Far too often, people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and they think that who they used to be is gone,” said Moir, who added that, oftentimes, people with Parkinson’s are forced to worry about doctor’s appointments more than doing what they love. “So with this initiative, what we are doing is empowering people to continue to do the things that they’ve always loved to do.”
Current DopaFit fighter and pilot Rick Burkhart is the first person to participate in this initiative. Prior to his diagnosis, Burkhart owned a flight school at the Westfield Barnes Airport. He often took cross-country flights, and donated his time and planes to drop supplies off in remote areas of impoverished countries. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2009.
“My flights were normally just around the Northeast,” said Burkhart. “Most flights I took were out to the Cape.”
Burkhart found out about DopaFit when he was a resident of West Springfield four or five years ago. The people who helped him with healthcare referred Burkhart to Moir. When Burkhart first met him, Moir would come to Burkhart’s house to act as his personal trainer.
“He really helped me in stemming the tide of disease progression and actually making me push myself a little bit,” said Burkhart.
According to Burkhart, he and Moir would begin talking about getting Burkhart back flying a plane again after Moir’s wife began taking her own flying lessons. “That coordinated with [Moir’s] idea of helping people get back into things that they used to do that they couldn’t do because of Parkinson’s,” said Burkhart.
As part of the initiative, Burkhart flew a plane on April 12 with the help of Fly LUGU Flight School at the Westfield Barnes Airport. This was the first time Burkhart has flown a plane in almost 10 years.
“For me, I don’t see the Parkinson’s as being something that is debilitating enough that I couldn’t fly if I wanted too,” said Burkhart. “This is an opportunity for me not just to go flying, but to show other people that they can do things that maybe they haven’t done because of Parkinson’s.”
During the summer, Burkhart is planning on organizing a hike with other people who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
“My hope is that this program Chad is doing will show people with Parkinson’s and without that it doesn’t have to be a showstopper,” said Burkhart.
DopaFit plans to offer the “Limitless” program on a quarterly basis every three or four months, according to Moir. The organization is creating an application so people with Parkinson’s can have an opportunity to participate in the program. “We say quarterly because it’s all donation-based,” said Moir. “We’re hoping that other programs will donate their time and hopefully some money as well to bring as many people to this as possible.”