Dave Parker & Kellye’s Story – With Hope, Undefeated

The day that Dave Parker decided not to let Parkinson’s disease defeat him was the day he saw a framed picture of himself, in his Cincinnati Reds glory days, staring back from the wall of a local restaurant.

“I’m looking at this glass cabinet, and it’s got a reflection of my face,” said Dave, a Cincinnati native and 1978 Major League Baseball National League MVP. “And I just kind of made an oath to that individual that was in that glass case, which was me, that I would not give in to it.”

During his baseball career, that same grit and determination helped carry Dave to three consecutive Gold Gloves and seven trips to the All-Star Game.

And strength is what Dave still brings to every day, on the good ones and the bad, since his Parkinson’s diagnosis seven years ago.

The changes were subtle at first—so subtle that only his doctor noticed during an annual physical exam.

“My hand was trembling a little bit, and he noticed and said, ‘How long has it been?’ and I told him about six weeks. And he says, ‘Well, it looks like you might have a little touch of Parkinson’s,’” Dave recalled.

More changes since then have marked Dave’s life with Parkinson’s disease, but his physicians at UC Health—along with attitude, and his wife, Kellye—have kept him going.

“Dr. Duker is a tremendous man,” said Dave of Andrew Duker, MD, UC Health neurologist and Parkinson’s disease specialist at the University of Cincinnati Gardner Neuroscience Institute. “We’re going to work with this in any way that we can to adjust the medicine to make life as normal as possible, and he’s done a great job with that.”

Despite his disease, Dave is still the all-star he’s always been. He continues mentoring young baseball players, and now he is involved in Parkinson’s awareness initiatives where he meets others who share his diagnosis.

“They give you hope,” Kellye said, of other people with ailments. “Parkinson’s is not easy either, but you go, ‘Wow, look at them.’ How can you give up? Their hope and our hope, it just keeps going.”

Dave Parker and Kellye’s story is part of the “Discover Hope” project. To learn more, visit uchealth.com/discoverhope.