CROWN POINT | There was no more attentive audience for the airing of NBC's new Michael J. Fox television show Thursday evening than the group gathered at the Marian Education Center on the Franciscan St. Anthony Health campus.
That's because like Fox, and his lead character on the show, Mike Henry, many of them live with Parkinson's disease.
"So far, so good," said Andrew Reynolds, of Crown Point, halfway through the first of two episodes of The Michael J. Fox Show. "It's interesting."
Reynolds and his wife, Mary, attended the premiere party hosted by the NWI Parkinsons Inc. organization to support their daughter, Andrea Dance, who has Parkinson's disease and leads support groups in Merrillville and Crown Point.
"We're here to celebrate Michael J. Fox going back to work...showing that it's still possible to work and be productive with Parkinson's," Dance said.
The local party, one of 300 held nationwide under the auspices of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, was organized by Elizabeth Woodbury, a Schererville businesswoman who began fundraising for Fox's foundation 10 years ago when she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, and established the NWI Parkinson's Inc. foundation a year ago.
"He's an inspiration," she said of Fox. "He's so brave, positive, strong, fighting to go on. He makes me fight harder."
Celebrating her birthday at the party, which included a trivia contest about Fox, a Michael J. Fox bingo game and refreshments in addition to the television show airing, was Dr. Jen Pallone, a neurologist with The Neurological Institute & Specialty Centers of Northwest Indiana who treats many of the Parkinson's patients attending Thursday's party.
"I'm having a little trouble hearing (the dialogue) in this big room, but it's kind of cute," Pallone said of the TV show.
"Fox is displaying dyskinesia, which is the involuntary swinging back and forth, and that is a bit distracting, but I'm used to seeing it in (Parkinson's) patients, so it is realistic. We're here to cheer him on."
The Crown Point audience laughed knowingly as Fox's character joked about Parkinson's on the show. "We can relate to what he's going through," Dance said.
Cathy DuFon, of Crown Point, was surprised to see Fox's real-life wife, Tracy Pollan, on the show, and said she likes what she saw in the first two episodes.
"I think I'll keep watching it," added her mother, Jean Schuster, of Lansing.