A Message from Karen Tylka

Dear Reader,

I’m Karen – a longtime user, supporter and advocate of On With Life’s Parkinson’s Disease programming. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in May 2014, and I knew right away I was going to do everything I could to fight this disease. I began attending a support group in the Ames area and while that group wasn’t quite the right fit for me, it led me to On With Life. Tammy Miller, On With Life’s director of outpatient services, attended the last few minutes of one of those meetings to talk about On With Life and one of its newest programs for persons with Parkinson’s, Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT®).

The LSVT program focuses on big and loud movements and sounds that help negate the symptoms of Parkinson’s. I knew this was something I had to try and was so fortunate that the staff were willing to work around my schedule so that I could participate. Just a few days into the four-week program, I knew On With Life was where I needed to be. Not only did I feel better, but I had quickly gained a team of supporters who were dedicated to fighting this with me.

After finishing the LSVT program, I continued to come back to On With Life for their support groups and various Parkinson’s programs. I wanted to be a part of everything they did! Over the years they have provided me with so many opportunities, some of my favorites being the boxing classes and riding a portion of RAGBRAI in 2019. And while these activities have made a big difference as I continue to fight my diagnosis, the relationships I have gained with both staff and other persons with Parkinson’s have been just as essential through this journey. On With Life has truly become my second family!

Those who are close to me have witnessed my love for this special place, and it warms my heart to know that they have become supporters of On With Life, helping more people access the services that changed my life. While I may not personally know you, I hope that by sharing my story and experience, you too can see the impact of every dollar that is donated to this incredible organization.

You never know who might wake up tomorrow and receive that life-changing diagnosis like I did nine years ago. I hope whoever that someone may be, they find their way to On With Life. Every donation is an investment in someone’s future, and as a person whose future was greatly impacted by On With Life, I can tell you that it is worth it. I hope you will consider contributing to this year’s Empower Hope Fund. Donors like you make experiences like mine possible!

Sincerely, Karen Tylka

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