Renee Shoner, Founder of Parkinson’s Flagler Palm Coast, has taken up the mantle of monthly meetings for those suffering from Parkinson’s and their family/caretakers. This group was originally part of Halifax Health, but during the COVID shutdowns of 2020, the group had ceased to exist. Of those who ran this group prior to COVID, Renee was the only one left in the area with the time and ability to bring this group back to life.
Renee shared her story with us, on how she became involved with the original group, as well as what led her to take it over on her own. “My father had Parkinson’s disease and he passed away in 2015. After he passed away I realized there was so much that my mom and my siblings and I didn’t know about it and we would get mad at him for it. We would get mad at him for all of the symptoms of Parkinson’s because we didn’t educate ourselves.” She continued, “After a year, in 2016 I realized I needed to give back.”
It was in 2020 that the group essentially was put on hold because Zoom wasn’t really a feasible option for the demographic who needed the support group. In 2022, Renee decided to bring the group back, but those who had helped run the group prior were no longer able to stay involved with the group. This lead Renee to start it back up in March of 2022, by herself. Over the course of the last year and a half, she has since formed an official non-profit, Parkinson’s Flagler Palm Coast, and the group has grown.
The group meets monthly, with a short activity/workout followed by a speaker for those in attendance. After forming the non-profit, Renee was able to make a connection at the City of Palm Coast, and was offered use of the Community Center free of charge. The group is able to meet every 3rd Wednesday of the month at 3pm.
One of the aspects that Renee touched on regarding Parkinson’s, is that this disease is not curable, and one of the biggest forms of treatment to slow down the progression of this disease, is exercise. That is where Lion’s Pride Boxing Owner Rick comes in. Rick is Parkinson’s Certified, allowing him to offer ‘Rock City Boxing’ classes. He holds weekly classes that are strictly for those suffering from Parkinson’s disease, on Monday’s Wednesday’s and Friday’s. Rick also comes out every month to provide the workout for this group at their monthly meetings.
Right now, Renee was able to get funding from Jax HOPE, where she sits on the board, to pay for the Monday classes that Rick offers for those suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Her goal with her non-profit is to have all the classes paid for, so that those suffering from this disease can attend without worrying about paying for their classes.
Renee also touched on what she said was a big problem in Palm Coast, which is that there are only two Neurologists in the County. This means that people have to travel to Jacksonville and Orlando to see a neurologist. That is one aspect that Renee wants to be able to assist with, is being able to help with medical transportation for those who may not have transportation options to get to the doctor.
“Everybody just wants to have friends and talk to people. We are afraid to talk to somebody and insult them, but the people I deal with and work with all the time, they just want to be loved and talked to like anybody else” she said. One of Renee’s goals is not only support for the families and people suffering from this disease, but awareness for the public as well. Renee hopes to have a walk or a run next year to benefit this organization and help raise awareness for it in our local community.