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Monday, June 17, 2013

Bob Preston stays the course in Parkinson’s fight!

Bob Preston feels better than he did a year ago.

“I feel better mentally and physically. Is it the mind fooling the body? If it is, I’ll take it.”
His prescription? Take your disease to sea. Sail where the spirit of the day takes you. Anchor in waters like the ones off the Grand Bahamas that are so clear you can look 20 feet down and see everything.
“It’s the biggest, cleanest fish tank you’ve ever seen.”

Sit on the deck at night and look up at the stars through pollution-free air.
“The stars at night are beyond description. It’s so clear it’s as if you can reach out and touch the Milky Way.”

And talk to people. Sail into a place never visited before, flying the flag that declares this the “Optimism Can Take You Anywhere Tour,” and start some conversation.
“We’d just start chatting it up,” says Preston. “People are incredibly friendly.”

It is about five years since Preston learned he has Parkin-son’s disease. It has slowed some things down, but taken away very little. He insists on giving up no more than he absolutely has to to the disease that affects more than 1,300 families in Rhode Island alone.
“I fight it tooth and nail,” he says.

Four years ago, he and his brother Bill decided to sell The Preston Agency in East Greenwich, the business they had built and for which Bob continued to work into last year. That cleared the way for this wonderful journey that Bob and his wife, Becky, took, the one that began in northern Maine in July of last year and ended back home in Narragansett in April. It took them to the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Keys, the Bahamas and Abaco Islands, even to the Everglades. And it took them to places at the water’s edge where they talked to a lot of people about why they were there.

Before setting sail aboard his 37-foot The Back Cove, he set three basic goals: Raise awareness about Parkinson’s disease; demonstrate the importance of a positive attitude when dealing with a chronic disease; and “raise a few bucks” for the Rhode Island chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association.
The trip exceeded expectations, he said. It was an 11 out of 10.

“If anything, it gave me more energy, more focus.”
And it gave the Parkinson Disease Association $160,000, a figure Preston hopes to raise to $200,000 with a few more appeals back home.
“All the money raised was one-on-one with people,” he says.

The Parkinson Disease Association is a very good place for people to go to begin dealing with the disease, says Preston. Go to

Coming up next? Another trip, probably late next year. Preston is thinking about a bigger boat with a greater range to take him and Becky to more new places where they can drop anchor, look down into the sea and up into the sky, and talk to people.

They probably won’t have a set itinerary for the next trip just as they had none for the trip just completed. They never knew exactly where they would go on a given day and that seemed to work just fine.
“I’d get up in the morning and ask the admiral, ‘What do you want to do?’ We had no schedule for nine months.”

Article by:  Bob Kerr (401) 277-7252

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