Golf outing aids locals with Parkinson’s

by Lynn Colburn

James R. Pohlman Memorial Golf Outings have raised and given away $85,000 in the last five years (would be six, but the tournament was interrupted for a year due to COVID), to assist in different ways to combat Parkinson’s disease.

The August 14, 2021, JRP Memorial Golf Outing gave $5,000 to the Bob Freesen YMCA’s Rock Steady Boxing Program to help local participants with active movements to help the fight off some Parkinson’s issues.

Andy Smith, chairperson of the JRP Memorial Golf tournament board, said, “If you know Phil, he takes care of the details, he went looking for the absolute best place to make this money work for everyone and for Parkinson’s. The first year it was hard to find the right place to give the money, but he persevered and picked the best place he could find for the funds in the Midwest and possibly in the country, through a couple of doctors that specialize in Parkinson’s. He found a research specialist at Washington University, so that is where most of the money has been going for the first four years. But he is also very concerned about individuals and families locally. And one of the things he has talked about lately is awareness.”

“My hat is off to all you have done,” Mayor Andy Ezard said to Phil Pohlman as he welcomed everyone to the golf tournament this past summer, including many people from Greene and Scott counties who came to support the event at Nichols Park Golf Course. “On behalf of the city and myself, we are really happy for all you have done for Parkinson’s in your brother’s memory,” the mayor continued as he introduced the man who began the tournament in 2015.

Pohlman noted in response to the

mayor’s kind word, “This is not just Phil Pohlman, this is our committee that we started six years ago now, with a year interrupted by COVID, and everyone who has a yellow shirt on today is part of the committee or those impacted by Parkinson’s disease. JRP would want us to do all we’ve been doing. When we started this event in Jacksonville we had little to no awareness of Parkinson and programs that can help.”

Pohlman continued, “Amy Little from the YMCA is over here and she has an outstanding program, Rock Steady Boxing, in Jacksonville. And I would love for her to expand her program into Scott and Greene County some time. They have roughly about 25-30 people in their exercise program, many of whom are also here. So, I invite everyone to go and talk to them about Parkinson’s disease, their program and how it has helped them.”

Food and a silent and live auction followed the JRP golf tournament.

“It’s kind of unusual how it started, I guess,” said Pohlman later. “My brother, James R. Pohlman (JRP), passed away and his two daughters came to me and said they’d like to do something, ‘We miss our dad.’ So, I said, ‘Let’s do a golf tournament.’ And we started that way. My sister Jan has Parkinson’s and Jim wouldn’t have wanted to do anything but to help others. So it is all close to home. We started a Parkinson’s Disease Research Golf Outing in 2015 and this is our fifth year.”

“I started this in Jacksonville, because although I’m from Carrollton, I consider Jacksonville my hometown. After the first tournament, I went to the doctors, I went to the hospital, I even went to Springfield, and they all said we’d have to look for someone else. I’d say, ‘I have this money, I’ve got a check, what can I do with it?’ Then I went to my sister’s doctor and he said, ‘I have a great person you can give it to.’ It was Dr. Joel S. Perlmutter at Washington University with their Movement Disorders Group. He is world-renowned and specializes in Neurology. He has people who come in just for his specialty with Parkinson’s Disease and related disorders. There are actually a lot of people in Jacksonville under his care for

Parkinson’s at his practice in St. Louis, so there is a huge connection between Jacksonville and Washington University. This connection was so fortunate and has led to more connections.”

“I have been on the radio here about our tournament, but after I worked with a lady from the Michael J. Fox Foundation, through Dr. Perlmutter, she went on the radio here with Gary Scott and talked about Parkinson’s disease to raise awareness of its symptoms and more locally. And (that) has become a huge goal – to raise awareness and let people know they are not alone and there are resources available! Before we started the awareness campaign, people didn’t know what was available or where.”

The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation estimates there are more than one million people in the United States diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and more than 60,000 new cases are diagnosed annually.

The Rock Steady Program helps participants of a variety of ages. Coach and mentor Amy Little leads classes at the YMCA on Mondays and Fridays and Parkinson’s Movement classes on Wednesdays. She helps her fighters work on specific skills to improve footwork, coordination and strength as well as sharpening cognitive skills. She understands the hesitation some participants feel, but she knows that stretching, building strength, and agility all help with motor control and building new brain connections can help to slow the progression of Parkinson’s. For more information on the classes, contact Amy at the YMCA at 217-245-2141.

The JRP Memorial Golf Outing funds will assist the YMCA to continue the work it is doing to help local people live with Parkinson’s. The JRP Memorial Golf Outing plans to continue its awareness campaign as well as raising funds each year for Parkinson’s Disease in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas, thanks to Phil Pohlman, his family and the JRP Memorial Golf Outing committee.

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