Kirk Hall is a husband, father, and grandfather living in the Denver area. In 2008 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD). He had to figure out how to “wrap his mind” around this unexpected development. After lots of soul-searching and research as well as the predictable depression and anxiety that many experience in the early stages of PD, Kirk arrived at a “crossroads” of sorts in late 2009, shortly after completing a memoir for his family. It was his faith that ultimately led him to the realization that he had been given an opportunity to at least try, with the help of his own “true love” and care partner (Linda), to help his fellow PWPs (persons with Parkinson’s) and their care partners. The seeds were planted for Kirk’s “second career” as a PD author, speaker and advocate.

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In 2010, he and Linda started a PD support group for residents of their senior living community and began attending a local support group organized by the Parkinson Association of the Rockies. They also took a trip to the National Institute of Health’s neurological division in Bethesda to participate in a new research project designed to gather pertinent information about PWPs and track their progression. Thus began what has turned into an ongoing commitment to personal participation in clinical research studies.

In 2011, shortly prior to Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery that virtually eliminated what had been described in testing as severe hand tremor, Kirk had an inspiration that created his alter-ego, Shaky Paws Grampa. He began writing a children’s book about his relationship with his oldest grandson, Carson, and how he communicated with him about his health issues before and after his DBS “special procedure”. He completed Carson And His Shaky Paws Grampa following his successful DBS surgery, portraying (with the help of illustrations by Alison Paolini) how he was now able to play with Carson tremor-free.

This book was published in September 2011 and lead to speaking engagements with Denver area and Colorado Springs support groups, University of Colorado Hospital, and Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center support groups in Phoenix. Kirk also did interviews with KOA radio in Denver and Fox TV in Phoenix. He and Carson were also interviewed as part of a book review in the Denver Post.

2011 had been an eventful year with many unexpected and exciting experiences. However, a concern that had been looming since the summer of 2008 also took center stage in September 2011 when Kirk had an appointment with his movement disorder neurologist, Dr. Benzi Kluger. Due to concerns about perceived deterioration in cognition and memory, the Montreal Cognitive Assessment was administered. Based on the outcome, Dr. Kluger diagnosed amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), a condition that frequently leads to dementia. This diagnosis was confirmed by a neuropsychological assessment the following summer.

In 2013, Kirk wrote a second children’s book (Carina And Her Care Partner Gramma) in order to provide a slightly more “advanced” communication tool that addressed Parkinson’s specifically and PD issues including the importance and role of care partners, the urgent need for more patient participation in PD clinical research studies, potential for improved quality of life for some PWPs by having DBS surgery, and more.

Kirk had also been attempting to write a book that he hoped would “shed needed light” on the important issue of PD-related cognition problems by sharing his personal journey, including what he had learned through his research and observations. After many attempts, this book finally began to take shape in 2013, but it wasn’t quite right. Following a trip with Linda to the World Parkinson Congress in October 2013, Kirk was able to finish it due to personal inspiration, feedback from Dr. Kluger, and extremely helpful assistance from an independent editor. Window of Opportunity: Living with the reality of Parkinson’s and the threat of dementia was published in ebook format in March 2014 and in book format in April 2014. Since publication, the book has received extremely positive reviews from PWPs, care partners, family members and influential individuals in the PD world.

Kirk and Linda remain highly engaged with the local and national PD world through their involvement with the Parkinson Association of the Rockies (PAR), the Parkinson Disease Foundation(PDF), the Parkinson’s Advocates in Research (PAIR) program, and the World Parkinson Congress (WPC). Kirk continues to make presentations to local support groups intermittently and writes articles for his Shaky Paws Grampa blog.  He and Linda are involved as stakeholders (providing patient perspective and input for design, implementation, and analysis) in a number of clinical research studies, including a $1.5 million, three site (Denver, Edmonton, and San Francisco), three year PD Palliative Care study funded by the Patient Centered Outcome Research Institute (PCORI). They also participated as part of the patient advisory council in an International PD Palliative Care Conference held in Denver during October 2015.  Shortly after, Kirk and Dr. Kluger accepted an invitation to fly to Washington, D.C. to do a PD palliative care presentation at PCORI's first annual conference.  As if that wasn't enough, Kirk has been invited to present on PD palliative care at the WPC in Portland that will be held September 2016.  

On a more personal level, Kirk and Linda (celebrated their 46th anniversary in 2015) are also committed to “living in the moment” including spending time with family and friends, engaging their faith, and traveling whenever possible.

Following the tragic death of Robin Williams, his wife confirmed that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Kirk, Linda, and others were interviewed for a Denver Post feature article designed to help educate the public about PD and related issues including depression.