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A special man on a hero's journey

Editor's note: this is a letter written by Ryan Holland, a participant in the Day One: Parkinson's Prison and the Hero's Journey to Escape class that began on Jan 16, 2024.


Dear Friends and Family, 


I have leaned on many of you in the past few years as I have learned to accept my Parkinson’s diagnosis, cope with symptoms, and even look forward to living a life with meaning and purpose.


Two activities have helped me make sense of my fate and to find a community of brothers and sisters who share the same condition. You may know that, given the litany of motor and non-motor symptoms, no two persons with Parkinson’s have the same exact challenges. 

First, writing has proved to be an invaluable tool in my transformation from self pity to equanimity. I truly believe that I will have an impact on others and an understanding of myself that I would not have otherwise realized if not for my disease. Writing has helped me avoid false narratives and embrace a reality filled with activities I can still do. On top of that, new pursuits are possible now which seemed unimaginable just a year ago.


A second passion that I have rediscovered is improvisational theater. There is an organization called Yes, And…eXercise (YAX!), created and operated by Robert Cochrane PhD, that has been a game changer for me. YAX!, a 501(c)(3), supports a troupe of improvisers, including yours truly, all of whom are persons with Parkinson’s (PwP) or caretakers and medical providers of PwP’s. We play improv and use storytelling to improve the quality of lives of all in the Parkinson’s community. Please peruse the link to learn more about the organization and all of the amazing ways we use this platform to learn, teach, play, and connect. 


The link brings you to the YAX! home page. Find a description of an incredible writing workshop that I am blessed to participate in by clicking on this link, Day One, or via the navigation bar on the home page. 


In order to support all that needs to happen to make this workshop successful, participants are soliciting friends and family for donations to YAX! Each individual has a goal of $2000. This contribution, of course, will benefit me, but I am also asking for your support so that others (who don’t have cool friends and family like me) can participate. To donate, click on my fundraising page. First, read for more details about how exactly your donation will impact this program. Then, click on the donate button. 


I cannot express how lucky I am to have found this opportunity. Thank you for your consideration.



-Ella, Ben and Old Man Holland 

Christmas 2023

If you didn’t know, I have moved to California to live with my parents who also both suffer from Parkinson’s. We are thinking about changing our name from Holland to Parkinson.



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