Parkinson’s Disease hasn’t stopped Philip Konrad from doing what he loves.
The 100 Mile man still hunts and fishes – one of the main reasons he moved to 100 Mile House 10 years ago – and plans to get back to umping for Softball BC this summer. He is also the voice of the national play-by-play radio broadcast of the 100 Mile House Wranglers.
“I’m the ‘he shoots he scores!’ guy,” Konrad said. “I do it because I want to do it. It’s fun and I wish the Wranglers had 100 games a year.”
Konrad, who was diagnosed with the degenerative neurological disorder 11 years ago, said rather than get stressed about having the disease, he reached out to Parkinson’s BC to learn more about how to live with it. He later founded the 100 Mile House Parkinson’s Support Group to share his knowledge with others.
“When we started, Parkinson’s BC told me there were about 40 people in the 100 Mile area who had it,” he said. “We got a lot of speakers in talking about how to live with and what resources are available in the 100 Mile area.”
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that primarily affects the parts of the brain that control movement, resulting in tremors, stiffness, and slowness. Konrad notes it is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s that has no cure.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease are most commonly seen in people over the age of 50 but may begin under the age of 40, according to the Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Society.
Konrad, who experiences uncontrollable body tremors and slowness of movement, said “everybody’s different” in how the disease progresses.
“It’s not black and white symptoms. You might get it and have some symptoms I never get,” he said.
He maintains medication and an active lifestyle has proven to be an effective prescription to continue living life to the fullest. He still does some part-time house painting and power walks to stay fit. While COVID-19 curtailed softball the last two years, he said he was able to get his umpire certification training via Zoom – as opposed to driving to Kamloops for an eight-hour meeting.
He’d also still be playing hockey with the Old Timers Hockey Association but his back won’t let him anymore. “I’m human and I’m old,” he said.
“If you do nothing you’ll get worse, so the busier you are physically, and I’m sure mentally too, it slows down the advance,” Konrad, 69, said. “I say ‘try to catch me’ but eventually it will. What’s the point of living in fear of it?”
His support group had upwards of 15 regular members before the pandemic but the numbers have shrunk due to not being able to meet during the pandemic.
Konrad said he plans to host a Zoom meeting near the end of April and get things back on track. He is also willing to connect with those who have may just found out they have the disease. He can be reached at 250-395-3925.
“I like it when people ask me about it. You can often hear the sensitivity and their fear to ask you but I like talking about it. I got it and I’m not trying to fool anybody about it, ask me anything you want,” Konrad said. “Just accept people with Parkinson’s as normal people.”