A cure for Parkinson’s disease won’t be found today, tomorrow or anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean people will stop looking.
FOR A GOOD CAUSE: Tricia Takahashi, manager of Domino’s in La Grande, asked her co-workers to contribute toward her brother Michael Decker’s efforts to raise funds for Parkinson’s research. Employees chipped in $300, and inspired Domino’s owner Jessy Watson to expand the fund-raising effort. The Observer/BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH
Employees at Domino’s Pizza in La Grande are doing all they can to help. After they heard about Michael Decker and his goal of walking in a Sole Support for Parkinson’s fundraising event, they started taking a dollar here, a dollar there out of their tips and placing the money in a special box in the kitchen.
Manager Tricia Takahashi said the money added up fast.“One day I said, ‘Hey guys, would you mind putting a buck in, out of your tips?’ The first night, they gave $40, and it’s up to $300 now,” she said.
Decker, 27, is a 2000 La Grande High School graduate who lives in Vancouver and works as a medical technologist in Portland.
A year ago, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, a degenerative disease of the central nervous system that often impairs motor skills, speech, and other functions.
Though effective treatments have been developed to give relief from symptoms, there is no known cure for Parkinson’s. Decker has a long, hard fight in front of him. He decided from the start he wasn’t going to let the disease get him down.
After he heard about Sole Support for Parkinson’s — a series of walking events designed to raise money for Parkinson’s Research — he took action. He formed a team, and started raising donations through the Sole Support website.
The team’s name? Glass Half Full.
“Since I was diagnosed a year ago I have learned many things but one of the most important is that we can help, and if we always keep the glass half full, nothing is impossible,” Decker said.
Decker set a goal to raise $2,000, and to date, he’s got $750. He plans to walk a 5K event in September.
As he waits for that day, his fund raising continues. Donations are accepted via Decker’s web page at www.solesupport.org., or locally at the Domino’s store, 1010 Adams Ave.
Decker said raising money is important, but added that he is taking part in Sole Support to help educate the public about Parkinson’s.
“It’s a way to raise awareness about all the research that’s going on,” Decker said. “The more people know, the better it is,” he said.
Takahashi has a special interest in Parkinson’s and the search for a cure, since Decker is her brother.
And locally, he still has many friends. After Domino’s employees started their fund, owner Jessy Watson, who coached soccer at La Grande High when Decker played, took a hand.
Takahashi’s plan was to collect donations from her co-workers only until Decker completes his walk.
But Watson plans to carry the effort further, giving both employees and customers a chance to donate, and continuing Parkinson’s research fundraising long after Decker takes part in the event.
“We were just going to do this until September, but Jessy said, no, we’re going to do it until they find a cure,” Takahashi said
Watson and his partner Dennis Poe own Domino’s stores in
La Grande, Baker City, Hood River, The Dalles and Portland. At all those locations, employees and customers are being asked to donate to Parkinson’s research.
Watson said Domino’s makes it a point to support good causes. His stores already raise money for multiple sclerosis research, and also for St. Jude’s Children’ s Research Hospital.
“Anytime we can make a difference, we’re all for it,” he said.
But for Watson, the cause is special. He said he is one of many people in Union County who remember Decker and feel a kinship. He believes those people will want to help.
“We got to thinking, there’s a lot of people around here who know Mike. We decided we’ll just keep on accepting donations for as long as there’s an interest in giving,” he said.