Today, legendary boxer and sporting hero, Muhammad Ali, who lived with Parkinson's for over 30 years, passed away at hospital. Muhammad Ali was an inspiration to millions, both as 'the greatest sportsperson of the century' (as awarded by the BBC and Sports Illustrated), as well as for his values outside the ring. Although at times viewed controversially, he was a leading voice for religious and racial freedom and stood by his convictions even in the face of extreme public disagreement.
As one of the first high profile figures to speak publically about living with Parkinson's, Muhammad Ali opened the world's eyes to this devastating condition. He used his platform, his position of power, to give the world an insight into Parkinson's. He not only highlighted the ongoing day to day difficulties of living with the progressive condition but also how it is possible to respond with positivity to a life changing diagnosis.
Diagnosed with Parkinson's at just 42, he was clear that facing the daily challenge of the condition had been the other big fight of his of life - and one which he faced head on, working tirelessly to raise both funds and awareness, and to accelerate research.
Muhammad Ali approached his life with Parkinson's with great dignity. His appearance at the 1996 Summer Olympics at Atlanta carrying the Olympic torch was a moving testament to his strength of character and determination. As millions came together to watch the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, few could forget Muhammad's courage as he attended the show, his Parkinson's so painfully evident. We, and many millions of people living with Parkinson's globally, will remember his bravery.
Muhammad Ali died with Parkinson's after leading an incredible life - his Parkinson's did not define him as it does not need to define any of the 127,000 people currently living with Parkinson's in the UK.
A couple of years ago we undertook a huge listening exercise to record the experiences of people affected by Parkinson's, asking what the top three things are that would change their lives with the condition. Alongside more control in managing their condition and excellent health and social care for everyone affected, finding a cure remains a top priority.
Research is by its very nature unpredictable; there are no easy or quick routes. Muhammad Ali once said, "Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing." Some people may say that finding a cure for Parkinson's is not possible. At Parkinson's UK we believe it is.
To date, we have invested almost £70million in ground-breaking Parkinson's research. We're leading the way to find a cure and improve life for everyone affected. By working together - researchers, fundraisers, people with Parkinson's - we can explore the power we have to change the lives of people living with Parkinson's. With your support, we'll overcome the symptoms and find a cure.
For more information, or to donate, please visit www.parkinsons.org.uk/research
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