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Michael J. Fox

Parkinson's Disease


Updated December 14, 2009

Michael J. Fox
Getty Images/Peter Kramer
Though he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease back in 1991, Michael J. Fox has spent most of the last decade creating awareness about the disease and raising funds for research. His limitless devotion to finding a cure has ignited public awareness about a disease that the many people paid very little attention to prior to Fox's crusade.

Seven years after being diagnosed, Michael made his battle with Parkinson's disease public. In 2000, he founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. To date, the organization has donated over 159 million dollars to research for the disease. It is touted as the leading authority on Parkinson's research and has made great strides toward finding a cure.

Fox has also become an dedicated advocate for stem cell research, which many researchers believe hold the clues to possible Parkinson's treatments or a cure. He has publicly endorsed politicians who support stem cell research, like Claire McCaskill, whom Fox appeared with in a campaign ad. His endorsement prompted Rush Limbaugh to make a controversial comment regarding Fox's political involvement in the ad. Limbaugh was quoted as saying, "He is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He's moving all around and shaking and it's purely an act. ... This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting."

As ridiculous as Limbaugh's comment was, it shed light on the challenges that people with Parkinson's face every single day. The uncontrollable tremors, visual disturbances, and chronic fatigue are just a few of the symptoms that plague people with Parkinson's every day. Michael J. Fox's advocacy has given us a candid, personal view of the disease. He has given Parkinson's an identity and a face that those who are unfamiliar with the disease can associate with. This alone makes Michael J. Fox one of the greatest health advocates of the decade.

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