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Parkinson’s Disease a Familiar Foe

by Alexis Tahara / Nashville Predators

In the fall of 2010, my parents told me and my brother that my Dad, not yet 50, had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. People are quick to associate Parkinson’s Disease with high-profile fighters of the disease. My brother and I did just that, asking a few questions and then moving on with the rest of our day.

As any college-age student in the age of the internet would do, I spent hours researching the disease on the internet, reading articles about people from all across the country. However, it was a story about a coach in Nashville, Tennessee, that caught my eye.

I still remember the first article I read about Brent Peterson, then associate coach of the Nashville Predators, and his fight with Parkinson’s Disease. Nothing I had read up until that point had resonated with me like Peterson’s story did. He was a similar age of my own Dad, fighting the same disease, and still succeeding in his job as a coach in the National Hockey League.

Of course, Parkinson’s affected Peterson’s life, but he certainly wasn’t allowing the disease to control it. For a disease that not many talk about on a regular basis, reading Peterson’s story gave me comfort that my own father could fight, and live a fairly normal life, just like Peterson.

Many times in the next year, I routinely found myself searching for new stories about Parkinson’s Disease, reading about research and new hopes for a cure. In one of those searches, I came across a new update on Peterson, who at the time was undergoing Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery (DBS) to help alleviate some of his Parkinson’s Disease symptoms.

In an effort to create awareness of the disease, Peterson’s DBS surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center was done in the public eye, allowing me, a girl hundreds of miles away in Pennsylvania, to follow the surgery and Peterson’s progression, over the internet. Since the DBS, Peterson is happy, healthy and has seen a dramatic reduction in his symptoms.

While following Peterson’s journey, I was directed to the website of his organization, Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s (PFP), who has been working since its foundation in 2007 to educate and raise awareness of the effects of Parkinson’s Disease. PFP also works to raise money to support to research, education and support groups both in Middle Tennessee and nationally.

In 2011, PFP joined forces with the Nashville Predators Foundation to hold the First Tennessee Nashville Predators/Brent Peterson Celebrity Golf Classic at Vanderbilt Legends Club and Petey’s Preds Party, a fun night of live entertainment, dinner and a silent auction at Bridgestone Arena. The first three events have each raised more than $200,000, which is then split between PFP and the Predators Foundation.

Before I ever read about Peterson’s success as a hockey player – his first round selection in the 1978 NHL Entry Draft, his 11-year NHL career, his 1998 Memorial Cup as coach of the Portland Winterhawks, his accomplishments as an assistant behind the bench of the Preds – I had read about Peterson’s success fighting Parkinson’s Disease. Getting involved in either the Golf Classic or Petey’s Preds Party is an easy way that anyone can help further that success, not just for Peterson, but for a guy like my Dad and for people from all over fighting this disease every day.

Information about how to secure your spot at both the First Tennessee Nashville Predators/Brent Peterson Celebrity Golf Classic and at Petey’s Preds Party can be found at

For more information about Brent Peterson and Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s visit and for information about the Nashville Predators Foundation, visit

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