Patient turned advocate Ann Hanley inspires fundraiser for Parkinson’s research

Last week, more than 300 people gathered to honor a special person and her work.

That person is Ann Hanley. Her work: the Ann Hanley Parkinson’s Research Fund, which supports research at the University of Kentucky.

Hanley was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at the age of 49. Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease that damages and eventually destroys neurons in the brain, causing muscle rigidity and tremors, difficulty moving, unstable posture and ultimately death. It is estimated about 10 million people worldwide have the disease, which has no cure.

“I pretty much lived the gamut of everything that you could possibly expect when you hear a diagnosis like this one. And it wasn’t easy,” Hanley said.

But instead of letting fear get her down, she’s focusing her energy on lifting other Parkinson’s patients up.