WHEN PARKINSON’S COMES TO YOUR HOUSE: HOW ONE TEANECK FAMILY COPES BY RAISING TZEDAKAH FOR A CURE
Parkinson’s disease does not only affect the elderly. It is an illness that often afflicts people in the prime of their lives, thereby robbing the world of their talents. In the case of my husband, Dr. Lou Flancbaum, his Parkinson’s diagnosis summarily ended his career as a general surgeon at the age of fifty-three. A surgeon with a tremor is the ultimate example of the painful irony of Parkinson’s.
Back in 2007 when he was diagnosed, I believed that without his career Lou would shrivel and die. He worked or was thinking about work 24/7. But, in the months after we received the news that would forever change our lives, I saw a new side of my husband. In short order, he transferred the discipline necessary to being a great surgeon into taking care of himself. Every day he sets his alarm and participates in at least two hours of exercise. A typical morning for Lou begins at Stone Yoga on Queen Ann Road, followed by 45 minutes on the elliptical at home. Then he enjoys an hour or so of hitting golf balls at Golf Tech in Englewood. My husband takes no Parkinson’s medication and, for now, controls his symptoms by keeping active.
Lou’s days are also filled with consulting jobs and playing with his grand kids; Aleeza, Leo, Isaiah, Elijah, Jonah and Maayan, or raising money for the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research ((MJFF). We both believe that every dollar we raise for MJFF brings us one step closer to a cure. Lou spearheaded a golf outing that we named Pars for Parkinson’s: The Paul Kudowitz Memorial Golf Outing, which has raised over $160,000 for Parkinson’s Research.
What is amazing about Pars for Parkinson’s is that it has been a vehicle for bringing folks together from all segments of the Jewish community. People love my husband perhaps because he has the tough exterior of a surgeon and the mushy interior of a marshmallow. The merchants of Teaneck have supplied all of the food for this event for the past three years. My frugal husband has encouraged us to keep our expenses to a minimum so MJFF gets the benefit of the proceeds.
Our most ardent supporters are; Maadan, Sababa, Sushi Metzuyan, Kosher Sports, Butterflake Bakery, Silverleaf Caterers, Dougies, Etc., David’s Cookies, Matisse Chocolatiers, Glatt Express, Gotham Burger, and NoBo. Clark Loffman from Limo Cuisine and Jack Wasserman of Silverleaf Caterers drive up to the Catskills at the crack of dawn to deliver all the food out of the goodness of their hearts. The kindness and generosity of the Teaneck and Englewood Jewish communities is overwhelming, and their kindness has often brought me to tears.
We have been fortunate to have support from Rabbis Joel Pitkowsky, Barry Schlesinger and Shmuel Goldin. Members of our steering committee consist of people who show up one Sunday night a month for six months a year, and call in every favor they have to help us make more money. Our devoted committee includes, Avi Goldin, Alex and Vicki Wulwick, Marlene and Phil Rhodes, Mindy Silverstein, Ricki Kudowitz, Aleeza Reich, Tova Flancbaum, Ira Goetz, L’via Weisinger, Brian and Cindy Blitz, Michael Markel, Marcy Rubin, Abbé Rosner and Bob and Suzan Topaz. These people daven in different shuls and live in different towns in North Jersey, but their common bond is that they are sticking by Lou and our family as we face the challenge of Parkinson’s disease.
The goal of the MJFF is to find a cure and to lock their doors. Lou and I have a goal too. We’re hoping that this will be the fourth and final year for Pars for Parkinson’s. We will be able to stop asking our friends and family for money. We, like the MJFF, are looking forward to all of this being unnecessary. When that time comes, the Flancbaums will throw the biggest kiddush that Teaneck has ever seen.
Until then, the fourth annual Pars for Parkinson’s will be held on Sunday, June 23, 2013 at Tarry Brae Golf Course in South Fallsburg, NY. You can register to play and or you can donate via our secure web site: parsforparkinsons.org. We hope to surpass last year’s total of $61,000! Rain or shine, we hope to see you there.
By Debby Biskin Flancbaum