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Pittsburgh-area couple awarded for work with Parkinson's disease patients



PITTSBURGH - Tom and Carol Reid, of Plum, have been living with Parkinson’s disease for 17 years, but it’s how they are helping others with the disorder that has earned them a big honor.

They will be awarded with the “Local Hero” award Saturday from the Davis Phinney Foundation.

Carol Reid remembers when she started noticing a change in her husband.

“He was losing facial expression. I didn't know what that meant. I just felt like you know, you're not responding to me,” she said. “He was drooling. His eyes were watering. He was falling often.”

Tom Reid went to the family doctor and was given Claritin for his watery eyes.

It took two years to get a second opinion and a diagnosis of Parkinson’s, a neurodegenerative disease.

“I was in a classical case of denial,” said Tom.

Symptoms involve loss of motor control, affecting speech and movement.

Tom was a captain in the Army before becoming a corporate attorney. He enjoyed public speaking and using what he and his wife called his “command voice.”

Parkinson’s has changed that.

“It affects my ability to communicate. As Carol pointed out, my body, my face, to put meaning behind the words. And it my case, it’s difficult to do. My voice is weak,” he said. 

Now Tom is putting his voice on paper.

He and 21 other members of the "old guard" of the U.S. Army’s official ceremonial unit recorded their firsthand accounts of their roles for President John F. Kennedy's funeral.

“I was the officer in charge of the internment ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery,” he said.

His book, “Their Finest Hour,” was just published.

Tom and Carol are also writing a new chapter in their lives.

They founded a Parkinson’s support group and started an annual retreat for Parkinson’s patients and caregivers in Ligonier.

They want to help others understand how to live with this disease.

“Parkinson’s isn't going to take over their lives,” said Carol Reid. “They live with it, but it’s not who they are.”

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