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Natural Awakenings Sarasota / Manatee / Charlotte

Parkinson Place: Where the Good Days Begin

Jan 03, 2013 02:28PM


For the 7,500 Parkinson’s disease patients and their caregivers in the Sarasota area, every day is a challenge – a physical test of stamina and mobility, a fight to maintain a sense of humor and a resolve to live life to the fullest. Parkinson Place, a program of the Parkinson Research Foundation (PRF), is new to the Sarasota/Manatee/Charlotte area. The patients and their families who deal with Parkinson’s disease are finding this resource and they agree -- this is where the good days start.
The Center, which opened in September, offers programs in medical, physical and psychological support for Parkinson’s patients and their care “partners.” From chair dance to yoga, voice aerobics to chorus, Parkinson Place offers an environment where Parkinson’s patients can come to relax and have fun, and where everyone is the same.
Larry Hoffheimer is the founder of the PRF. An attorney who previously worked with the U.S. Department of Justice, and then in private practice, Hoffheimer focused his legal talents in the healthcare field, particularly on improving the lives of persons and their caregivers living with Parkinson›s disease. That became the impetus for the creation of Parkinson Place, a one-stop destination that offers a wide array of programs for the Parkinson community residing in the greater Sarasota area.
Parkinson Place, with its unique focus, is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. Programs Are Diverse, Inclusive and Free Marilyn Tait, Executive Director of Parkinson Place, rightfully calls this the “go-to spot for fun, ability-based programs that keep the body, mind and spirit up and moving.” Marilyn should know. With more than 40 years of professional experience in healthcare, and 15 specifically devoted to Parkinson’s disease, she has hand-picked the instructors who serve the members of Parkinson Place.
On Mondays, participants enjoy yoga and meditation with Lynn Burgess, founder and director of Yoga from the Heart. She is registered with Yoga Alliance at the highest possible levels as an RYT 500 and E-RYT 500 instructor. Tuesdays, it’s Dance for Parkinson’s with Leymis Wilmott, MFA. Leymis is the co-founder and artistic director of Sarasota/ Bradenton’s first contemporary dance company, Fuzion Dance Artists, and is an adjunct professor of dance at New College of Florida. She’s a certified “Dance for PD” instructor trained by the Mark Morris Dance Group in Brooklyn, NY. On Wednesdays, Mary Spremulli, MA, CCC-SLP leads Voice Aerobics in the morning, and Phyllis Lowitt leads “Singin’ in the Park Chorus” in the afternoon. Mary is a medical speech-language pathologist and registered nurse. Phyllis attended the Julliard School and received a Master of Music Degree from USF.
The Thursday morning program energizes everyone with Ageless Grace presented by Mary Masi, MEd, who leads participants through 21 chair exercises that stimulate and utilize the five areas of the brain to enhance function and cognitive skills.
Thursday afternoon is a session on Parkinson’s disease exercises. Participants benefit from fun, ability-based exercises that support strength, balance and mobility, taught by Kathi Simms, RN, and Certified Parkinson Fitness Instructor. Additionally, “Ask the Doctor” sessions in a Lunch and Learn format with Juan Sanchez-Ramos, MD, PhD, the only Fellowship Trained Movement Disorders Specialist in the area, provide monthly access to this internationally recognized movement disorders specialist. “Caregiver Matters” with Marilyn helps caregivers cope with assisting their loved ones who are dealing with the overwhelming challenges of Parkinson’s disease.
All of the programs and services are free, made possible by funding through the Parkinson Research Foundation. “Do it all with Parkinson’s” educational series featuring physicians and other Parkinson experts is scheduled for January and February 2013 at Parkinson Place auditorium. A sevenday Parkinson Educational Cruise to the Eastern Caribbean, offering onboard physician lectures, workshops, participation programs, support groups and special events is set for late February.
Hoffheimer explains the rationale behind this new community resource. “There is no destination site like Parkinson Place, anywhere,” he says. “We have assembled the finest, evidence-based programs in a fun and positive environment, where individuals with Parkinson’s can be proactive and engaged.”
Parkinson Place is located at 5969 Cattleridge Blvd., Suite 100, in Sarasota. For detailed information about programs and services, please visit or call 941-893-4188. Information about the Parkinson Research Foundation is available at
Natural Awakenings of Sarasota February 2020 Digital Edition