When one person in a family is diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease (PD), the diagnosis impacts the entire family. The Torrence family has been actively involved with the Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s since 2017. Board member, Gail Torrence, is here with her daughters Sarah Rink and Katherine Fiorianti to share their story and the impact Parkinson’s has made on their family.
In 2013 Gail’s husband, Scott Torrence, began experiencing tremors in his left hand. After seeing many doctors and specialists, he was finally diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2014. “I was familiar with the disease, as my mother was diagnosed in 2008. However, I did not understand the full extent of the symptoms and progression.” says Gail.
Upon learning more about the diagnosis and understanding the importance of community, Gail and Scott became regular members of the Franklin Support Group. Throughout the next few years, Scott and Gail became even more involved in the Foundation. Scott joined the Board of Directors in 2018 and Gail established the Peterson Painters in 2019. They supported the group by attending Petey’s Party and Golf Tournament – encouraging their friends to attend these events.
In November 2020 Scott passed away due to cancer but his legacy lives on. “If you knew Scott, you know he was deeply committed to this Foundation throughout the last few years of his life. The Franklin Support Group grew with the commitment Scott made to promoting the Foundation to the Parkinson’s community and beyond in Middle Tennessee,” states Executive Director, Debbie Lowenthal.
Gail has taken over his seat on the Board of Directors, co-chairs the Franklin Support group and works with many of the small groups including the Peterson Crafters, Women with PD, and the Peterson Painters. Their eldest daughter, Sarah Rink, a registered dietitian has conducted several webinars on nutrition and health for individuals living with Parkinson’s. “Through my experience with Parkinson’s, I have been able to share information resources, support and understanding to others in my network including business owners, a church member and friends who have been diagnosed with or have a loved one living with Parkinson’s.” states Sarah.
Although living in Virginia, Katherine stays connected with the Foundation through her work on social media, marketing campaigns and promotional materials for the nonprofit. “It’s a way to stay connected to my dad. Even though I can’t be there for every meeting or event, I am still able to make an impact and I know he is proud of all three of us and our commitment to PFP.”
The Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s understands not all individuals diagnosed with PD have the family support that Scott had when living with Parkinson’s. That is why the foundation continues to add support groups across Middle Tennessee for both individuals living with Parkinson’s and their care partners. Fore more information on how you can join a support group email firstname.lastname@example.org.