Summer Forum Background

Parkinson’s Network North Summer Forum 

Back in 1986, a new summer event was introduced in Traverse City - the Grand Traverse Area Parkinson’s Support Groups Summer Forum. The late Maxine Meach, organizer of that first Forum and founder of what is now called Parkinson’s Network North, thought her group would be fortunate to attract 20 guests.  And then 75 people showed up!

That was then; this is now. When asked what she was most proud of, Meach always pointed to the longevity of this successful event. Success indeed!  Our last Forum hosted a total 250 people.  She recalled Dr. Thomas Auer of Traverse City, a former medical advisor to PNN, commenting “Look at what you’ve accomplished – you’ve got a roomful of people here.”  Meach explained, “The Forum provides the local Parkinson’s community with information that they otherwise wouldn’t know about. There is a wealth of Parkinson’s information out there; the Forum brings it here to Traverse City.”

How do we get such high caliber speakers? “Simple,” said Meach, “just ask. This Forum is well known around the country and has a record of success, continuity, and quality.”

Meach credited the Parkinson’s Network North’s own exhibit which every year earns high praise as attractive, well stocked with good materials and staffed by knowledgeable individuals. The 2019 exhibit was designed and manned by long-time PNN Board member Hettie Molvang, a retired NMC Professor of Clinical Nursing and, said Meach, “a fearless advocate for funding for Parkinson’s research and the health care needs of Parkinsonians and their care partners.” 

The Summer Forum is presented by PNN’s Education Committee and is a masterpiece of planning. Committee member Chris Esper explained that “all the exhibitors are businesses and providers relating to services, research and products specific to persons with neurological conditions.” As to what she most likes about the Forum, Esper, a former school principal, spoke of the high quality of the speakers and educational opportunities.  Best of all, she said, is seeing people share their experiences and strategies for coping with the challenges of life with Parkinson’s.

That’s it! Friendships. Shared experiences. New information conveyed. A good lunch. A great day.