March Parkinson's Fighter(s) of the Month: Larry and Nola Hietbrink


HietbrinksThis month, Neuro Challenge staff reflected on a couple that has played a special role in the Neuro Challenge family. Larry and Nola Hietbrink are what Neuro Challenge Foundation Executive Judith Bell calls a volunteer 'dream team.' Together, they work passionately to support many different Sarasota charities in their respective missions to fight Parkinson's disease, help at-risk children, support the ministry of their church, fight homelessness, and to support the arts. “The Hietbrinks are a powerhouse of philanthropic energy,” says Bell. “They give so much of their time, creativity, and other treasures to make our community healthier and happier. Not only do they devote their passion to so many worthy causes, they actively encourage their friends and family to also be forces for change.”

Since being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease seven years ago, Larry, with the support of his loving wife, Nola, have been avid volunteers, donors, and clients with the Neuro Challenge Foundation. Larry, a retired executive, is also a long-time bicyclist, sailor, and athlete. He and Nola enjoy regular exercise, such as yoga and cycling, and are determined to remain as active as possible, while making sure that the underserved in the community get all the help they can give. “Although, 'You've got Parkinson's'” was a turning point for the Hietbrink family, they “Accept and adapt,” as Nola says.

Neuro Challenge Care Advisor, Jennifer Williams, has known the couple since she began working with the non-profit. “This is a family that has reached out for support throughout the changes in their life with Parkinson's and they have allowed Neuro Challenge to be a vibrant part of that life.” Care Advisor Carisa Campanella has also spent time with the family and admires them for “Always working so hard and being such incredibly loyal people.”

The Hietbrinks each serve on three non-profit boards and are credited with raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities such as the Neuro Challenge Foundation, the Children First Foundation, and the YMCA Foundation. Members of the community, particularly at Neuro Challenge, are very grateful for the opportunities made possible through having this dynamic duo on our team. Neuro Challenge Office Administrator Sara Weinberg had this to say: "I am honored to know Nola & Larry and especially to have the opportunity to work with Nola on the NCF Board. They always have a smile on their faces and in their voices and bring a broad depth of knowledge and support to our organization."

Part of the couple's mission is to deny Parkinson's the chance to be a curse. Their wish for others is to live with joy and hope in every day.


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Angela Abu Eita