Allison Toepperwein was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when she was 37. Many people would struggle facing that diagnosis, but she didn’t let it get her down.
“Once I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, I began to really live,” she says. “I realize that tomorrow is not promised for any of us.”
Toepperwein was diagnosed on Dec. 31, 2014. In the months prior, she had separated from her husband and started divorce proceedings, sold her home, and moved back in with her father. That night she tucked her then four-year old daughter into bed, and said, “This is not how my story is going to end!”
Documenting the journey
Four days later, she started her blog, LitWithin.com, where she chronicles her Parkinson’s journey. Two months after that, she started exercising as part of her doctor-approved treatment to beat the progression of the progressive nervous system disorder.
“The biggest positive changes that I’ve made to my life as a whole have been exercise, and to believe that there is nothing in this world that I can’t do,” says Toepperwein, who blogs for the Huffington Post.
Toepperwein knew exercise would help her manage her Parkinson’s symptoms, she so she gave it her all and ultimately entered the American Ninja Warrior competition. Now a two-time American Ninja Warrior, she encourages other people with Parkinson’s to exercise and be empowered.
“If you can start moving, you’re already 10 steps ahead of anyone else,” says Toepperwein, whose blog led her to start a nonprofit called Lit Within, Inc., which helps women find their light within.
Her diagnosis gave her new inspiration; Allison has been sharing her story of inspiration to people with Parkinson’s across the country at American Parkinson Disease Association educational symposiums. “Now if I want to do something, I do it. That includes having no limits in life,” she says.