I offer this story I just wrote but intend to post to facebook after I attend Mass this morning.

From time to time I am questioned as to why I chose to begin a non profit. Today, Easter Sunday 2016 I attended Mass at the Parish Church where I grew up. I wrote about this parish last year telling the tale of how the new pastor seemed bent on destroying everything associated with the history of this Parish. In particular missing last Easter was a statue of “The Risen Christ.” Another Pastor change has restored “order” to the parish and indeed, Christ has risen again. It was fitting I return here to see this Easter Tradition this year. Ten years ago I approached Easter with my life spinning out of control. Up to that point my life seemed ordered with things happening for a reason. But in 2006 I remained in denial over the diagnosis I received 14 months earlier. Just prior to Easter 2006 word came down that my employer’s company was about to be the subject of an unfriendly takeover. This would return me to the employer I resigned from 7 years prior. This was not good. To control my Parkinson’s, I was taking Mirapex, a drug that would cause uncontrollable urges to sleep. I sat alongside my wife, not in our parish church but at the Basilica in downtown Minneapolis. As Mass progressed I struggled to remain alert and awake. My head was bobbing up and down. At the Homily, Suddenly I was transformed. Alert- Awake, attuned. My mind raced with images flashing before my eyes. My parents, my wife, my children, my friends, my business acquaintances, and Michael J Fox. The Fox image would repeat over and over. I turned to see my wife looking at me. “Michael J Fox” I whispered. “What???” “Michael J Fox. Remind me. I don’t want to forget.” We then returned our attention to the Priest conducting the mass. Afterward I described the event to Karen. She brought perspective and clarity to it. “A gift. You have been given a tremendous gift. You have been offered insight to what troubles you. And Today! The day of new beginnings, the day of fresh starts.” No I didn’t go to work for Fox but I talked at length with key members of his staff. It didn’t happen in a day but over many months.
It was these conversations in Q4 of 2006 that in 2007 would become the impetus for today’s Mike Justak Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease. It was to become even better. Many, many new faces. My life was pointed in a new direction with definite purpose. I would discover new talents. I would overcome obstacles. Parkinson’s sucks. Every day I am reminded that the disease progresses within me. But today I was reminded of how it made me a better person. How I found higher purpose for my life and the work I would do. It (Parkinson’s) was one of the better things that has happened to me. On Easter 2006 God took advantage of where I attended Church to give me direction. He ensured my eyes were open and would see the beauty of His plan for me.
Today, I took advantage of where I attended Church to ponder where my life has gone but most importantly of all, to say, “Thank You.” I can’t imagine my life without the Parkinson’s effect. Today at Church I thought about how lucky I am. Not only have I been given guidance but I am rewarded by seeing the impact of my actions. A simple note that says I inspire, a handshake offered through a car window after seeing my light show, or the memory of watching a woman rise from a chair unassisted then proclaim she hadn’t done that in months. This had happened at my first event for my non profit , an exercise symposium led by David Zid. That one event itself offered me an answer to the Parkinson’s diagnosis question, “Why me?” I am lucky. My eyes are open, I offer these humble words,


Thank You God.
Thank you