Kristen is a mother of two young children and takes time out once a week to volunteer at BEAM Thrift’s Shetter Avenue location. She also recently founded a nonprofit organization that helps people with Parkinson’s disease through non-contact boxing-based fitness training.
“'Give it a little love.' Those are the words spoken by my lovely friend and manager of the BEAM Thrift on Shetter Avenue, Suzie Chisolm, that continue to echo not only in the context of a cozy corner in my favorite shop, but also inside my mind as I make the most of each day, living with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease.
After 20 years of serving both the adult and pediatric population as a Speech-Language Pathologist in Atlanta, Georgia, my life and that of my young family took a detour when I was given a Parkinson’s diagnosis at the age of 43. Just 6 months after my diagnosis, our family moved to Ponte Vedra Beach. Once our family got settled into our home and school community, I had an urge to do what I had done for over 20 years as a therapist – help others. With my love of thrifting, BEAM was a natural fit, and volunteering at the Shetter Avenue store with my BEAM family quickly became a favorite day of every week! Knowing the love and support of BEAM, it wasn’t surprising that each became a cheerleader in my pursuit to be the voice for others less able. I was soon on a mission to help the Parkinson’s community by bringing an evidence-based exercise program known to combat the daily symptoms of this progressive disease to my new home town, Jacksonville. In January of this year, we proudly opened Rock Steady Boxing Jacksonville’s doors to 9 brave Parkinson’s fighters!
My husband and I often say that Parkinson’s disease has been an “unfortunate blessing” in our lives, for it has given me and my family more than it has taken at this point. It’s provided a new path, an opportunity to help others, leading us to encounter amazing people, and witness true compassion from so many. I just give each day “a little love” and receive so much more in return."