MUNSTER | His walk has slowed to a shuffle and a medication schedule interrupts his life five times a day, but one Munster man is turning his disease into a cause.
Frank Rumoro, 48, will host the Stepping Out fundraising walk Sept. 15 at Centennial Park to benefit the Parkinson's Disease Foundation.
Stepping Out, which Rumoro hopes will become an annual event, will start at 9:30 a.m. and end at 12:30 p.m. The 1.25-mile walk through the park will include a sports memorabilia auction to benefit the foundation.
Registration is free, but participants are encouraged to donate to the cause. Donations also can be made at Rumoro's website, http://support.pdf.org/steppingout.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects nearly 1 million people in the U.S. Symptoms vary from patient to patient. It has no cure.
"My brain isn't sending signals to my muscles, so my muscles are dying," Rumoro said.
Actor Michael J. Fox and boxing legend Muhammad Ali have the disease. Rumoro, a former insurance agent who also strummed his red guitar as a worship leader at his Illinois church, was diagnosed in 1999.
The signs were small. He struggled to throw a ball from second base to first. His hand cramped in pain while writing. He started brushing his teeth and shaving with his left hand, tasks he had done with his dominant right hand before.
"I just knew," he said.
His doctor told him it wasn't likely but, she checked his gait, reflexes and ability to turn around. She sent him to a neurologist who confirmed that Rumoro, only 36 at the time, had Parkinson's. A Type II diabetes diagnosis soon followed.
The medication makes him too sleepy for office work. He took a job at a hot dog eatery, but the fast pace amplified his tremors and shuffling. So Rumoro went on disability.
Rumoro, who has a 19-year-old son and 17-year-old daughter, moved to Munster with his fiance a year ago.
He wanted to attend the Unity Walk in New York City, a 1.25-mile walk that raises money for Parkinson's research, but the hotel was too expensive.
"I said, 'I'll do my own walk,'" he said.
His goal is to raise awareness. Someone once confused his tremors as drunkenness, he said.
“We are grateful for PDF champions like Mr. Rumoro who are dedicated to funding the most promising research and raising awareness about the impact of Parkinson’s," said Robin Elliott, executive director of the Parkinson's Disease Foundation.