By 2006, Dale Okonow had become very familiar with the challenges facing people with Parkinson's disease, their families, and their caregivers. His father suffered from the disease for years and Dale knew that while monies were being spent on research to find a much-needed cure, there was little, if anything, being done to help people with Parkinson's and their families cope on a day-to-day basis. “I saw first-hand the severe emotional and physical toll [my father’s] illness took on my mother and the rest of our family. Although my parents lived in Florida, I saw the need in the Boston community for a program that could provide support and comfort to those people in our area who had Parkinson’s, their families, and caregivers,” Dale explains.
“I had been involved in JF&CS as a Board member for several years and had seen the great work JF&CS was doing with similar support programs for the elderly,” adds Dale. That is when he, along with real estate developer and investor Mitchell Robbins, approached Sy Friedland, who was the CEO of JF&CS at the time, with their vision for the Parkinson’s Family Support program. With both of their fathers suffering from the disease, Dale and Mitchell understood the need for such a program, and together they provided the seed money for it.