Donna and Tom Driscoll
Potomac Donna Driscoll is the voice of courage as she discusses dystonia, the disease she has lived with for nine years. “It’s frustrating and debilitating — but I never give up pushing. I feel better when I am trying.”
Driscoll’s life was totally altered by this neurological movement disorder that she now battles on a daily basis. She had always been an active person who played competitive USTA team tennis, taught first grade at Garrett Park Elementary and traveled often to visit grandchildren. Because of dystonia, the Potomac resident has been forced to give up tennis, retire from her teaching position and quit walking her dog. She could not accompany her children and grandchildren to Disney World without a wheelchair and she had difficulty with daily tasks such as grocery shopping and walking up and down stairs.
Yearly she vows to beat dystonia by raising funds for research and by increasing the public’s awareness. “Researchers have made strides in the treatment of dystonia, and I am determined to raise enough money to solve the mysteries of this disease and find a cure. Researchers have found new procedures and medicines that improve the lives of those with Parkinson’s — a disorder closely related to dystonia. I always say, ‘Parkinson’s has Michael J. Fox, dystonia has me.”
Driscoll continues to increase the knowledge about her debilitating disease by trying to mobilize government officials to grant more funds to dystonia research.
“I have walked the halls of Congress every year to make our congressmen and women realize how devastating this disease is — and that money needs to be allocated for more research. Three hundred thousand Americans are afflicted with it — and the numbers are rising. It’s the only way to unlock the mystery of why children and adults get this disease — and how it can be treated and cured,” she said.
An increasing number of Wounded Warriors are being diagnosed with dystonia due to traumatic brain injuries. The Department of Defense now recognizes dystonia as one of the devastating conditions that military men and women are returning with from Iraq and Afghanistan. There is no cure — and it is often misdiagnosed.
The Donna E. Driscoll Walk for Dystonia on Oct. 26 will begin and end at the historic Irish Inn in Glen Echo. This autumn walk will be an opportunity to stroll 3.3 miles along the towpath of the C&O Canal, through the town of Glen Echo and finish with a continental breakfast furnished by Christy and Libby Hughes, owners of the Irish Inn and long-time supporters of the effort to cure dystonia. Hatzel Vela from the ABC7/WJLA-TV news team will be on hand to greet and support the walkers as they head off to complete their mission and return for breakfast.
This is the inaugural Donna E. Driscoll Walk for Dystonia. In previous years, Driscoll sponsored a golf and tennis tournament at Bretton Woods. “People often call me to ask when it is taking place. However, we felt it was time for a change. I am excited about the walk because it celebrates having the ability to move freely — and that’s what we want for everyone with dystonia.
“Many people with dystonia will be attending. If they are unable to walk, they will be here to socialize. We also have a virtual walk on the website for those who cannot come on Oct. 26. I am also elated because many of my former students are planning to come too.”
Registration for the 8 a.m. walk on Oct. 26 is available on-line at www.driscollwalkfordystonia.com. Participation in the race is $35 which includes a tee-shirt and the continental breakfast. All proceeds go to the Dystonia Foundation. For more information, contact Donna or Tom Driscoll at info@Driscollwalkfordystonia.com.