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Meet Lisa Bain, PAN’s Idaho State Director

Lisa Bain hails from Meridian, Idaho and is the Parkinson’s Action Network’s (PAN) Idaho State Director.  Lisa’s grandfather and great aunt both lived with Parkinson’s disease, and when her father was diagnosed two years ago it became a personal mission for Lisa, as her dad’s caregiver, to advocate for better treatments and a cure.   As a real estate finance marketing professional, Lisa uses her relationship-building skills to bring the Parkinson’s community together in the Boise area and across Idaho, and she isn’t shy about reaching out to elected officials to fight for federal funding for biomedical research.

PAN’s Communications Director, Carol Blymire, interviewed Lisa about how she balances home, work, and her volunteer advocacy role with PAN.

PAN:  What drew you to becoming an advocate and working with PAN?

Lisa Bain:  It's an exciting time in Idaho as we are strengthening grassroots advocacy and awareness.  It was a different story two years ago when my dad was first diagnosed and I was desperately reaching out for information and support.  I got lots of information from the Internet, and many of the organizations sent me hard-copy materials to study.  I was still feeling isolated and frustrated, when I got a phone call from PAN asking if I would be interested in becoming an advocate leader.  The light bulb went on, and I knew this was the right organization for me.  I can't find a cure … I can't make Dad feel better … but I can advocate the heck out of this disease.

PAN:  What have been some of your proudest or most exciting moments as an advocate?

LB:  Bringing together Idaho's Parkinson's community has been very rewarding, but the most exciting moment for me as an advocate was learning that both of Idaho's Senators recently voted to support the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) funding we'd requested.  In our conversations, both were supportive of a strong FDA, but very committed to a balanced budget, and I just didn't know how they would vote. Their support for the funding was a huge victory for Idaho and proof that advocacy works.

PAN:  What are some of the biggest challenges you think caregiver-advocates face? 

LB:  I can't speak for everyone, but one of the biggest challenges I face is finding time to do everything I want to do.  I know that every little bit of advocacy helps make a huge difference, but making sure Dad's day-to-day needs are taken care of is my number-one priority.  The selfish side of me also deals with the knowledge that many of the advocacy victories we are achieving won't translate into an immediate improvement for my Dad.

PAN:  What role does your family play in your advocacy work?

LB:  It takes a village!  I work full time, and my family holds down the fort during the day.  They also put up with my tapping away at the computer in the evenings, writing to Representatives and Senators, as well as connecting with other Parkinson's advocates in our state and around the country.  When there is an issue to be voted on, they support my need to be involved.  And, of course, they are all signed up as PAN e-Advocates [1].

PAN:  Do you volunteer with any other Parkinson’s organizations, locally or nationally?

LB:  I support and appreciate the work of the national Parkinson’s organizations.  Locally, we've formed a small grassroots group that helps to spread the word about Parkinson's resources in Idaho.  I co-lead a support group, and am helping to get a support group started in a neighboring county.

PAN:  What are your hopes for the future for the PD community? 

LB:  I dream of the day when we are so well networked, so well connected, that when a cure is formally announced we will already all have heard about it because we were involved in making it happen.

PAN:  What advice do you have for people who want to become more involved in the Parkinson’s community?

LB:  DO IT!  Call, email, write someone!  It's easy with PAN to become an e-advocate [1], and that takes just a few minutes a month.  If you have the drive to do more, learn about becoming an Assistant or State Director with PAN. [2]  Any of the other national Parkinson's organizations would love to have you, and you can always work to support a local support group.  Together, our voices are strong and can't be ignored.  Finding PAN was a life saver for me, and I will be forever grateful for the support and encouragement of everyone there.

PAN:  Thank you, Lisa, for everything you do! 

If you’d like to get in touch with Lisa to learn more about PAN’s advocacy work and the Parkinson’s community in Idaho, you can email her at parkinsonsadvocate@gmail.com [3].


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