Carol J. Walton
Carol Walton’s father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when she was in her mid 30’s. For the first few years she continued working in the corporate world and tried desperately to find information on this disease which in the early 1980’s was a very difficult task. Carol’s dad lived in Washington State, and she lived in California. As a long distance caregiver/daughter, it was very frustrating for all involved. Her brother lived in Washington State and they shared responsibilities as best they could Carol’s brother would check on Dad daily, pay bills (keep Medicare paperwork straight), run errands and make sure he had the proper medications. Carol attended support groups and tried to educate herself to help her dad and family learn how to cope with Parkinson’s disease. She would travel to Seattle at least every two months and tried to schedule doctor’s appointments around her trips hoping to ask the right questions and get the right answers to help her dad live a better quality life.
Carol’s father passed away in 1993. He spent almost five years in convalescent homes, the last year in the same state as Mo Udall was prior to his death unable to walk, talk, eat or move. Carol took a year off after he died to figure out how to restructure her life so she could spend time working on finding a cure for this devastating disease. Shortly after, she attended the Parkinson’s Action Network Annual Public Policy Forum in Washington, D.C. Carol realized that this would provide her with an opportunity to use her business background and become an advocate for research. She met some wonderful people at this forum from all over the country and for the next four years, they worked tirelessly to obtain passage of the "Morris K. Udall Bill," which was signed into law by President Clinton in November 1997. During those 4 years, Carol spent many days walking the halls of Congress. She met with representatives from over 30 states explaining their story and getting them to co-sponsor the Udall Bill. She traveled in California as well as Washington State attending support group meetings and speaking about the politics and scientific research in the Parkinson’s arena. At every meeting, Carol would make sure we had letters signed for our representatives and educate groups on how to meet with their representatives to make themselves even more visible. In order to spend the time necessary to accomplish their goals, Carol chose to be self-employed thereby having some control over her time and spent the last 4 years in the life and health insurance industries.
Now, in 1999, the researchers say the cure is around the corner the only thing that is needed is research dollars. And after almost seven years of volunteer work, Carol now has the opportunity as Executive Director of The Parkinson Alliance to spend 100% of her time raising money for research. She believes her prior experience in consulting, public speaking and advocacy will be of great help in this new venture. AND, after a cure is found for Parkinson’s disease by 2005 or before Carol will then embark on another new career. SHE CAN’T WAIT.