Warrior Spirit – Dean Laws

A very special Warrior Spirit this month as we introduce Dean Laws. On the 19th of September I watched Dean produce an enormous effort as he completed a full marathon. With 7km to go Dean was in a lot of pain and discomfort and was out on his feet. It was amazing and inspiring to watch him silence the doubt, find that extra gear that we all have within ourselves, and get the job done.

Dean has raised over $60 000 for Parkinson’s NSW with this number still climbing! Here is Dean’s story…

“On the first of January 2013 I went for a run as I normally would (I was a bit of an athlete you see, soccer for 26 years culminating in 6 Premier League titles, then onto Triathlons for 10 years and then mainly fun runs, including 10 City to Surfs, half Marathons and one Marathon), returning from this run, I noticed a tremor in my right hand. It seemed very strange, so I decided to keep an eye on it for the next few weeks but it didn`t go away and I went to my GP for her to look at it. She checked it out then rang a friend she went to university with who was a Neurologist and got me an appointment the next day. I thought this to be a bit of a worry because they are booked months in advance usually.

Skip forward a few months and about April 2013 I was diagnosed with Parkinson`s Disease. As you can imagine it hit me like a lead balloon, after composing myself and coming home and calling my adult children I sat in my bedroom in a daze as my wife tried to reassure me. The kids came home and said Dad, don`t worry, we`ll look after you. Well, this didn`t sit well with me, I was the one who was supposed to look after them, not the other way around but I appreciated and knew they would stick by me.For the remainder of 2013 it was a bit of a blur really!

2014 – 2018 was spent bouncing around doctors and testing, juggling medication, every change made me nauseous and those 4 or so years felt like a lifetime (and now when I think back, that could have been my life if the following events didn`t take place).The first part of 2019 I felt like I was at a tipping point in my Parkinson`s journey and could have gone either way at this time.

In July of that year I went on a weekend away with 12 of my good mates and they obviously noticed the struggle I was having and they suggested we all band together (a team if you wish) to do something, anything really and one of the boys, Glen, came up with the name “The Dean Team” and we decided to do a Marathon (a little tongue in cheek it was at the time), little did we know what was going to come in the next 18 months (and the rollercoaster began).Not long after that my path crossed Parkinson`s NSW (I think it was a call I made to their info line). Right from the start they knew exactly what I needed, they put me in contact with one of their registered nurses (Margi Edmondson) who started me on the process of applying for the NDIS to get therapies that would help me (which they knew would turn out to be quite an expense).This process turned out to be quite an ordeal and without PNSW and Margi standing by me every step of the way, there is no way I could have stuck it through (so I fully understand how people with Parkinson`s can slip through the cracks and spend their lives suffering)

So, negotiating the NDIS application with Margi brought me to Advance Rehab Centre and the PD Warrior Program that is based on retraining the brain through exercise to compensate for the deficiencies that Parkinson`s had caused. It`s called Neuroplasticity!

The end of 2019 saw my application to the NDIS rejected (YES, those of you out there with an eye for details are saying to themselves, he`s been going 6 months just to get rejected) and things weren’t looking good as these therapies would be expensive. In January 2020 my application was approved on appeal (thanks again to PNSW and Margi`s tenacity) and I continued my PD Warrior program at Advance Rehab Centre and commenced speech therapy with Connected Speech Pathology and Zula Haigh.

At that time, I had 7 Parkinson`s symptoms and was working with Amali Perrera, Melinda Cooper and Zula Haigh on these Symptoms.My progress was quite quick and in March 2020 my mind went back to the Marathon and Parkinson`s NSW who had made all this possible and The Dean Team/Parkinson`s NSW Marathon Fundraiser was born (It was impossible really for me not to want to give back to an organization that has actually given me my life back, Fiona Jessiman (Head of fundraising for Parkinson`s NSW) keeps thanking me for what my Team and I are doing for PNSW, even being in the organization itself and seeing those with Parkinson`s on a daily basis it`s hard to grasp the impact Parkinson`s has on your life unless you`re living it and believe me when I say, Fiona and her organization don`t have to thank me, I`m the one that should thank them for giving me my life back.

I continued to work with Amali, Melinda and Zula but I had to compete in a Marathon (and chose the 2021 Blackmores Sydney Marathon in September), so I had about 18 months, not only to get running again (as I hadn`t done any for several years) but to run, and survive, 42.2 km!

In May 2020, in steps Lisa Meng (Exercise Physiologist) at Advance Rehab Centre and she took on one hell of a challenge, so we went for our first run.3km quite slow and I felt like I was going to collapse at the end (or maybe I did, I don`t really remember) but Lisa was determined from the start and so was I.Fast forward 1 year to (May 2021), a lot of work from Lisa and me and my Parkinson`s symptoms have gone from 7 to 3 (in a disease that is degenerative) and my running has gone from that painful 3 km to a solid 21 km`s in two and a half hours (a couple of injuries that Lisa has sorted out on the way with targeted sessions in the gym) and I`m feeling strong and confident to take on anything.So, in giving back to the organization that started it all (Parkinson`s NSW) we are now raising much needed funds and will continue our quest to The Blackmores 2021 Sydney Marathon to help those with Parkinson`s live independent, fruitful lives and beyond that, who knows what the future holds.At this very moment, 36 people in Australia every day are being diagnosed with Parkinson`s Disease so if you don`t know anyone affected by it, the chances are you soon will.

But, together we can be the solution to this problem !As a final word, I would just like to say !I am living, breathing proof that this system can work with effort and the right people around you and we will continue, with your help ! to be the solution for Parkinson`s NSW to give people with this disability, the ability to help others like themselves.

What exciting prospects the future holds! Parkinson`s is relentless!

So To Beat Relentless, You Have to Be Relentless.”


Related Articles

September – Stephen Knox

Stephen attends our ARC clinic weekly for PD Warrior group sessions and you will also recognise him from our Thursday online gym sessions.
He is tenacious in his commitment to exercise and fighting Parkinson’s and does an outstanding job putting into words his Relationship with Parkinson’s…
Past, Present and Future, by Stephen Knox:
“Writing a story about something that occupies your past, present and future…

June – John Lake

Looking back, some indicators of PD had been there for maybe up to two years before my diagnosis in April 2019. Principally my hand writing (I am R hand dominant) was becoming more and more laboured. Some eight months earlier I had decided to learn the violin, so the clincher became that I could not bow smoothly with my right arm, which became increasingly frustrating for me and my teacher. My father was afflicted with Parkinson’s late in his life, so all added up, the diagnosis was just a confirmation of what I already suspected.

January – Julio d’Escrivan

Julio is the perfect example of dreaming big and not letting Parkinson’s Disease put a ceiling on what you think you can achieve. Remember your goals and achievements are specific to YOU. Your marathon might be successfully walking around the block. Your Ironman might be climbing a set of stairs with more confidence. I hope you find Julio’s story as motivating as I did:
I am a composer of music for audio=visual media and a Senior Lecturer in Music and Sound for The Screen at the University of Huddersfield in West Yorkshire…


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