Brent Peterson will be the first to admit he doesn’t always look like Jack Nicklaus on the golf course, but no matter how many putts it takes to finish the hole, his stake in the fight against Parkinson’s disease is something to admire.
The former Nashville Predators associate coach, and now radio color analyst, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2003, and through his Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s, is leading a charge to find a cure for the disease.
Over the course of two days, Peterson hosted Petey’s Preds Party, complete with dinner, auctions and a performance from entertainer Terry Fator at Bridgestone Arena, followed by the Fifth Annual First Tennessee Brent Peterson Golf Classic, presented by Franklin American Mortgage at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, raising approximately $200,000 for the Peterson Foundation for Parkinson's and the Nashville Predators Foundation.
With Preds players and personalities, local celebrities and the general public partaking in an evening at the Arena or a morning on the golf course, raising funds and awareness for the cause has never been more enjoyable.
“The whole thing is just awesome,” Peterson said. “We had a first-class entertainer last night in Terry Fator and then today at the course, there are so many people out here. They come support our foundation and the Predators Foundation and it’s been terrific.”
Predators players are among the regular supporters at both Petey’s Party and the Golf Classic, with a veteran like goaltender Pekka Rinne attending year after year without hesitation.
“Petey has done such a good job with this for a number of years now, and it’s just great to see,” Rinne said. “It’s just a great cause, and he’s such a good guy, so for us, it’s an easy thing to come over and support.”
It’s not just Peterson who is grateful for that support, but people like Gaveen and Ramona Ross. Gaveen has Parkinson’s disease and the couple are not only friends with the Petersons, but they both serve on the board of the Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s.
After meeting the Petersons church, and having already been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, Gaveen saw the work being done through the Foundation and knew he wanted to help in some way.
“I think it’s absolutely fabulous,” Gaveen said of the Foundation’s efforts. “They’ve raised over a half a million dollars over a short period of time for research and anything we can save goes toward Parkinson’s research. I’m still hopeful for a cure.
“It’s just lifesaving because without hope, you don’t have anything. Seeing all the people out here means there’s hope and people are trying to help you, they’re trying to find that cure.”
Ramona, who is a nurse herself, believes the most important aspect of the Peterson Foundation is the ability to provide immediate benefits for local Nashville residents, and beyond dealing with the disease, whether that is through respite programs, exercise programs, or just an additional resource to turn to for information and assistance.
For Gaveen, the work being done is encouraging, but there is still plenty to be done. Giving monetarily may be an easy way to help, but he says time is just as valuable.
“If you’ve got the time, we can put you to work,” Gaveen said. “It doesn’t just take money to beat Parkinson’s, it takes a lot of labor. We’re going to beat it, we’re going to get the cure, but if you can, come help us.”
Whether it came from attending dinner on Monday or sinking putts on Tuesday, there’s been plenty of help over the past 48 hours, and more is sure to come. And no matter the amount contributed from each individual, Peterson takes solace with the reassurance that Parkinson’s research will advance that much more, courtesy of the events.
“I know where the moneys going to go and it’s all going to go to research,” Peterson said. “In my lifetime, hopefully we’ll find a cure and I’ll get a chance to live a little longer, but taking care of the caregivers, the patients, the research is all what we’re about and we’re just going to keep doing it as long as we can.”
For more information on the Peterson Foundation for Parkinson's, please click here. For the Nashville Predators Foundation, click here.