Joe Siragusa is a VP with Fidelity Investments and is a KiMe Volunteer as the President and Chief Operating Officer. He is a Certified Financial Planner and Chartered Financial Consultant.
In January 2011, I had the pleasure of being introduced to Steve Hodges through Fidelity. He told me a story about Kimberly and Megan, and how he was sitting in church one day and said, “I’m not going to feel sorry for myself”. And I thought, “You know what, I don’t have Parkinson’s, but I heck I could”. and I had two young children at the time. I thought, “Wow. Yes. Let’s do something about this. Let’s cure this for the next generation”. So, it’s really because of Steve and Steve’s inspiration, and I’ve stayed on ever since.
In line with our James Bond theme at KiMe, Joe has been assigned agent status 006: KiMe Leadership for his determination to find a cure for Parkinson’s. There are seven total “00” status agents in this interview series.
I’ve learned a lot, Things that I didn’t know before: Mainly, biomarkers. So, for all I know, I could have some pre-disposition to Parkinson’s. And there are certain environmental elements that can potentially trigger it, such as agricultural run-off. I could have that genetic pre-disposition. I’ve learned that if we can catch it early enough, then it can be treated early, as opposed to treating it after you’ve figured out you have it. That’s one.
Two, I’ve learned pretty clearly that the number of Parkinson’s patients in America will double over the next twenty years. I have family members, that did not have Parkinson’s when I started this journey with Steve, who now have Parkinson’s. So, it’s a little closer to home.
And last, but not least, a couple other things that I’ve learned. Parkinson’s, ALS, and Alzheimer’s are fairly closely related, so there is a belief that if you can find a cure for one, you can find a cure for all three. Those are three critical things I’ve learned.
Our biggest grant recipients have been the Van Andel Institute and the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Most of the grants we have given recently have been towards, this concept of biomarker research. A lot of these institutions are trying to develop tests that can almost be a part of a screen that your regular general family doctor can provide that might show some early signs, so that you could be referred to a neurologist. Both the Van Andel and Michael J. Fox foundations have active research dedicated to this subject of catching it early. There have been grants we have given that have been focused on pharmaceuticals that can cure. But what we have found, is that our grants success is very much in the research of how this disease comes about in people.
I think KiMe is a top-rated organization that was really founded with a purpose, to cure disease and/or care for the disease. I know some people might say, “I don’t suffer from Parkinson’s…” but the number of Parkinson’s patients will double over the next twenty years. Like it or not, more and more people are going to become familiar with somebody who has Parkinson’s.
More and more people have what we call neurodegenerative disorders, like Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s… If you’re not familiar with one of them, you probably will be, simply because of its growth rate and our aging population in America and in the developed world.
And so, if this is becoming a bigger and bigger subject, then why wait?
About Faith McGhee
After 17-year-old Faith McGhee graduated early from Oak Ridge High School in 2022, she sought out a new assignment—researching Parkinson’s disease. It was at a 2022 KiMe Fund Volunteer meeting the idea developed. Over the next few months McGhee made time to interview doctors, caregivers and patients, chronicling their stories of the neurological disorder that steals a person’s ability to move, eat and speak. What sparked her curiosity and concern? Faith’s grandfather has suffered from Parkinson’s her whole life. “The word I would use to describe him—it’s just strong,” she said. “He’s persevered through everything and he’s always been there for me and I try to do the same for him now.” Faith intends for these interviews to be a source of information, education and inspiration.