Special to the Daily News
ROANOKE, Va. – Former Middlesboro High School graduate David Chedester will represent over a million people when he speaks to the U.S. Congress on Feb. 26 in Washington D.C.
After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 27, making him one of the youngest to ever be diagnosed, Chedester has spent the past 16 months becoming a public figure, representing a message of “HOPE.”
“Everyone around me saw this as a death sentence when I was diagnosed.. but now that they see the positive effect PD has had on me, it really changes their perspective on how they view themselves and their own life,” said Chedester.
Since being diagnosed, Chedester has really shown that no matter what disease he is facing, he has no choice but to rise up. Last year he published a book, “Shakin’ Not Stirred (finding perseverance through Parkinson’s)” that outlined his long battle of alcohol and depression after first learning that he possibly had Parkinson’s.
Chedester started his own non-profit organization, Shakin’ Not Stirred Foundation, to help raise money for finding a cure for Parkinson’s. He also became an active member of the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
Chedester raised over $10,000 last year for Parkinson’s Disease, and also gave numerous inspirational speeches, including one at his former high school.
Running in the 2012 New York City Marathon would have capped off a tremendous year for Chedester, but because of Hurricane Sandy, the marathon was cancelled. However, Chedester is scheduled to run the marathon in 2013, becoming the youngest person in the world to ever run a marathon with Parkinson’s Disease at age 30.
Yet, 2013 is already proving to be a more impactful year for him. Recently, Chedester was named as the assistant state director for the largest non-profit Parkinson’s organization in the U.S. called Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN). They serve as the “shared voice” for all the Parkinson’s Foundation Groups, such as the Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali Foundation.
Chedester says he has one job while serving as a representative for PAN — “to get the U.S. Congress to invest more money into research for those battling Parkinson’s Disease and other movement disorders.”
On Feb. 27, Chedester, along with 20 other PAN state directors and advocates, will spend the entire day on Capitol Hill lobbying with members of the Senate and House of Representatives to expand their budget in clinical research for movement disorders, specifically Parkinson’s.
“This will be a new and exciting experience for me,” he said. “I’ve never been in a situation before where my voice was this important and impactful for so many people. Over one million people in the U.S. battle Parkinson’s Disease every day, but only a handful of those are anywhere near my age.”
Chedester said, “This disease continues to have an effect on people’s lives, and it needs to stop. The gold standard for treating this disease was developed 40 years ago. Yes, 40 years ago. I found it very troubling that we have come so far in treating other diseases, but Parkinson’s has been put on the back burner. I find that it’s my time to help our small community get it pushed to the fore front.
“It’s time to stop making excuses and time to start finding cures. I have all the confidence in the world that the cure is somewhere out there… I just hope I’m alive one day to see it. I might not be alive another 40 years from now unless a cure is found in the next 15.”