GREENSBORO, N.C. -- It was definitely not the typical practice day for the Page High School Pirates football team.
“Hey, guys, my name's Scott,” says Scott Silknitter, who likes like he could’ve been on one of the Page state championship teams back in the day.
Silknitter then calls up some of the star players, starting with one of the wide receivers.
“Make a fist with your hands,” he tells the player. He pounds the football into the player’s fists. “Now, how are you going to catch a touchdown – against your arch rival, Grimsley, no less – with your hands in a fist? But that’s what it’s like to have Parkinson’s disease.”
Silknitter does this with players from each position – the quarterback, the lineman, the running back – one symptom with each of them and then tells that to think about having each of the conditions and that’s what it’s like to have Parkinson’s.
Worse, yet, “Look around you,” Silknitter warns. "Twenty people you know, here, will get Parkinson's."
That’s how many in any given group develop the condition.
But Silknitter and his friend from Charlotte, Evan Cutler, are doing something about it.
When they brought the idea to the Page football team, head coach Jared Rolfes bought in right away.
“Kids don't think about things that can happen to them or their family members until they know somebody that it happened to or it happens to them, directly, and then they begin to look at things a little bit differently. I know I was the same way,” says Rolfes. “I always tell the kids that there's only one thing that you're guaranteed and that's adversity. And I think that anytime that you come down with an illness or a disease of any type - or your family members do - that's a form of adversity.”
Their idea is taking off.
“You've got Australia and the UK and Parkinson's Uganda reached out to us,” says Silknitter with a smile. “Who'd have thought? Little Greensboro, little North Carolina? I think that when you can find that perfect storm of people and idea and desire and it comes together, it doesn't matter where it comes from. It just so happens this one came out of Greensboro.”
See how it works and the inspiration for it, in this edition of the Buckley Report.