As a drummer for the band Mountain Head, Kevin Farmer knows one of the most important things any musician can do is learn how to listen. Sixteen years ago, Kevin’s father, Alan Farmer, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Kevin, then 18, was living at home and remembered his dad gathering the family to explain the news. “He seemed pretty normal at that point. The symptoms were minimal. I wasn’t aware of the impact, how challenging it would get for him.”
Having a close relationship with his dad, Kevin wanted to do something to help. After learning about the symptoms and seeing how his father developed, he wanted to raise more awareness and funds towards a cure. “Even when I tell people today, they have no idea what Parkinson’s entails. They may recognize Michael J. Fox, but there’s not enough information, not enough awareness out there. Many people believe Parkinson’s is only tremors. And my dad is kind of the opposite. He freezes up, where he can’t move or get a thought out and it can happen anytime. He is starting to know when it is coming on and tries to stop it from happening in advance. People just aren’t aware of the unique symptoms.”
After moving out on his own, Kevin noted Parkinson’s impact on the way they communicated and did things together. Even with best efforts, completing home projects became increasingly challenging, and at times his dad’s speech was barely audible. “He sometimes can’t get even a whisper out. Even if you don’t understand at first, you can’t give up. Ask. Repeat.” Kevin encourages. “He exercises and works with a therapist. Rather than telling him to speak louder, we ask him to think louder. Sometimes, thinking loudly helps to get it out of the body.”
Communicating creatively, and expressing a little hope, can make a big difference. As we all work toward a cure, more is possible. “Always having a bit of hope goes a long way.” Kevin reminds, “I remember before my dad had deep brain surgery, everyone thought he’d be in a wheelchair. My parents even bought a new house and ordered wider doors to accommodate one. After the surgery, he was much more mobile than predicted. It was night and day.”
Life can be full of uncertainty and in navigating a rapidly changing world, restoring creative connection is crucial. “Opening up your mind and being creative about raising money can inspire hope.” Kevin and his father were already involved in Parkinson Canada SuperWalk, but Kevin wanted to contribute in his own way. He wanted to share his talents drumming. “Not everyone can drum, but anyone can use their talent” We all have the ability to contribute, regardless of what talent we possess. Whether it’s running, dancing, or drumming you just have to pace yourself.” Inspired by my father, I combined my love of playing drums with a cause that I am truly passionate about.”
Fundraising Your Way – Livestream
Since 2008, Kevin Farmer, Alan Farmer and family participate in the Parkinson Canada SuperWalk, raising money annually that goes towards, research, education and support for people living with Parkinson’s. During the pandemic, Kevin came up with the idea to create and host Drums for Parkinson’s, a live streaming event hosted on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch. You can set up your own Livestream fundraiser to tell your story and engage support.