How it all started was that a circle of friends decided to hide a single shoe of one of their mutual friends named Tim, while he was napping. A Facebook page of photos was created to show Tim’s Shoe as it traveled about the local neighborhood, ending up in the strangest of places and in the company of different people.
A few days into the little stint, Pearl’s daughter Gretchen told her friends that when she showed the Facebook page to her mom, Pearl laughed for the first time in many months. At the time, Pearl was suffering greatly from the effects of Multiple System Atrophy (MSA).
In the process, Gretchen’s friends learned more about MSA, that it was a rare, progressive and rapidly degenerating disease, similar to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) but in some ways much worse and more rapid. They learned that patients with MSA have widespread damage to the autonomic nervous system. They learned how little information was available on the disease, little research was being done anywhere in the world and how many people, even neurologists didn’t know much about the disease.
After Pearl passed away, the circle of friends, together with Tim, decided that one way to honor Pearl was to use Tim’s Shoe to raise more awareness – as an instrument to educate the public in the hopes that more awareness would help increase support for research into the cause and further treatments, and eventually to help bring about a cure for MSA!
Multiple System Atrophy is a rare rapidly progressing neuro-degenerative disorder. MSA impairs the systems that regulate blood pressure, heart rate and bladder – many of the basic bodily functions that people take for granted every day. People with MSA suffer from dangerously low blood pressure, speech and swallowing difficulties, sleep disturbances, breathing problems, rigidity and tremors. The life expectancy for those with MSA is typically 3 – 9 years. Patients with advanced MSA often become bedridden, unable to speak and completely paralyzed. At present, there is no cure for MSA, no genetic tests to detect it and very few treatments to manage its debilitating effects.
Pearl Turner may have succumbed to this awful affliction – but her spirit lives on through the travels of Tim’s MSA Shoe, a spirit of awareness, in all the people it meets on its journey and at all the places it travels throughout the world – spreading awareness, far and wide, everywhere and with everyone!