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Garner Man Goes the Distance to Fight Parkinson's Disease

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GARNER — The New York Marathon is a supreme test for the physically fit. A Garner man who plans to run those 26 miles and 385 yards through Manhattan has already endured a supreme physical test.

Nine months ago, Howard Hobbs learned he has Parkinson's Disease. He says the Marathon is symbolic of his hope for a cure.

"I'm 42, when it hits you at that age, you still have half of your working life ahead of you - that's pretty devastating," Hobbs said.

Medication helps mask the symptoms of tremors and imbalance. Hobbs decided to run in this weekend's New York Marathon to cause more people to think about the disease, and to make himself think about it less.

"If I'm training for a marathon, that's so consuming that you don't have time to worry about the fact that you have Parkinson's. I guess what I find most troubling about it now is the uncertainty of my future," he said. "You know, how long the medicine will work because the medicine has a limited lifetime, and then it starts to become harder to moderate or manage."

Hobbs hopes more attention focused on the disease will encourage more research aimed at finding a cure. Until one is found, Hobbs says the best therapy for him has been support and understanding.

"I have a partner and she's very supportive, and that's important too," Hobbs said. "She's going to run with me."

"He has a love for life and I want to be there, right there with him," his wife Mary Joe said.

"We're tackling this task like we are tackling Parkinson's because the disease affects the people that live around you and with you as much as it affects you," Hobbs said.

New studies out of Duke University show a possible genetic cause for Parkinson's Disease. Researchers hope a better understanding of the genetic causes of the disease will lead to more effective therapies, and one day - a cure.


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