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When Life Gives You Parkinson’s podcast: A conversation with ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen

ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen.
ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen. Courtesy of ESPN / The Michael J. Fox Foundation

On this episode of When Life Gives You Parkinson’s, I interviewed the founder of ESPN, Bill Rasmussen, who publicly announced his Parkinson’s in 2019.

Bill was diagnosed six years ago. He is still active and still travels around the country giving talks to students and business leaders. At first, he says, he tried to hide his symptoms during his speeches.

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READ MORE: When Life Gives You Parkinson’s podcast — Where health and technology meet

“My left hand is the one that has the biggest twitch, so to speak,” he said. “I thought I’d keep it behind the podium or this or that, and after one event, they sent me a tape and I looked, and that wasn’t very effective.

“And so at that point, I said: ‘You know what? This is a fact of life. It’s not anything to be embarrassed about. People catch cold, people break their leg, people knock their head up against a wall or whatever. And that’s OK, so why isn’t Parkinson’s OK?'”

The 87-year-old takes medication each day, strives to keep operating at the same level as before his Parkinson’s diagnosis and still wakes up each morning with a positive thought. As you might expect from the founder of ESPN, he has an analogy for Parkinson’s disease.

READ MORE: When Life Gives You Parkinson’s podcast — Parkinson’s, parenting and the coronavirus pandemic

”The researchers are like the official scorekeepers up in the booth, but we are the players on the field,” he said. “We’re walking through it every day. They can study my brain, but I have to use my brain. And they can study your brain, but you have to use your brain to get through each day. And those are the things that I think if we can convince people, when you hear the word Parkinson’s, you don’t stop thinking, you don’t stop living or any of those things, you adjust and keep on keeping on, as they say.”

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My interview with Rasmussen is featured as part of a limited series of podcasts produced by the Michael J. Fox Foundation and co-hosted by Rachel Dolhun and me.

All the episodes can be found online at the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research website.

Please comment by leaving us a voice message here: https://www.speakpipe.com/WhenLifeGivesYouParkinsons.

Follow me, Larry Gifford: 

Twitter: @ParkinsonsPod

Facebook: Facebook.com/ParkinsonsPod

Instagram: @parkinsonspod

Thank you to:

The Michael J. Fox Foundation, Bill Rasmussen and my wife and partner in Parkinson’s, Rebecca Gifford.

Our presenting partner is Parkinson Canada.

Its toll-free hotline is 1-800-565-3000.

Follow Parkinson Canada on Twitter @ParkinsonCanada.

Find the new Parkinson Clinical Guideline at www.parkinsonclinicalguideline.ca.

Our content and promotional partners:

Parkinson’s IQ + You — A free series of Parkinson’s events from the Michael J. Fox Foundation

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Spotlight YOPD — The only Parkinson’s organization dedicated to raising awareness for young onset Parkinson’s disease and funds for the Cure Parkinson’s Trust

WPC2022 — Save the date for the sixth World Parkinson Congress, which is scheduled for June 7 to 10, 2022 in Barcelona, Spain. The only inclusive scientific conference opens its doors to people with Parkinson’s and families.

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