Living with Parkinson’s

Ted Kitchel begins foundation to help raise money for disease research

By Stephanie Dolan

Life is hard enough without having to worry about all the things that can happen to us … accidents … illness … tax audits. It can be depressing if you think about it long enough. And a lot of us do. We ruminate. We obsess. We focus so much on the negative possibilities that we often miss the glaringly obvious positive realities jumping up and down right in front of us.

It’s easy to forget that it’s possible to turn those lemons into lemonade.

That’s what Ted Kitchel of Center Grove has done.

Diagnosed four years ago with Parkinson’s disease, Kitchel recently held a golf fundraiser for Parkinson’s research on Aug. 26, raising more than $42,000.

Ted Kitchel with Kristi, his wife. (Photo by Rick Hinton)

“We learned a lot about how you do it,” he said. “It was very successful. My daughter Mackenzie lives in Chicago and works for a pharmaceutical company. I called her and said, ‘Let’s bag this. We haven’t really done anything.’ And she’s like ‘Oh no. There’s no way we’re forgetting about this.’ She said we’re going to do this. So, we slowly started to try to line up teams. We lived in Cincinnati for 13 years, and I have a tremendous amount of support in Indiana having played on an NCAA basketball team.”

Kitchel was an Indiana University basketball player and sports analyst.

“I also worked for FootJoy for 27 years, so I have a lot of connections in the golf world,” he said. “Ray Skillman was a major donor. He’s very helpful with his money. We had a friend in Vandalia, OH who was a big help with donations. Other than that, it was $150 a player and $600 (for a) team. If you wanted to sponsor a hole where you sign up with your name, it was another $200 to $300. My roommate from college, Randy Whitman – an NBA coach, came in and played. People like that got involved.”

Ted played basketball for IU-Bloomington in the late 70s/early 80s. (Submitted photo)

“When my dad got diagnosed, my family and myself didn’t know too much about Parkinson’s,” Mackenzie Kitchel said. “It’s a scary thing even though it’s not one of the major things you hear about like ALS. You always hear about the worst-case scenarios, but once we did our research and saw what level of progression he was at, we were a little more at ease. We now take everything with a grain of salt. We wanted to know what we could to slow progression and make this the most positive outcome.”

To slow the progression of the disease, Kitchel started visiting Rock Steady Boxing, a program designed specifically for Parkinson’s patients.

“I got involved with Rock Steady Boxing,” Kitchel said. “It was kind of new at the time. You do a lot of balancing drills and a lot of weight lifting. The last half hour you put on your boxing gloves and you hit the bag and spar with the teacher. Probably more importantly, you’re in there with a group of people who are going through the same things you’re going through. These are people who all have Parkinson’s, so they know what you’re talking about and have the same feelings and a lot of us see the same doctors. Rock Steady is very good. I normally go two to three times a week. The more active you can stay I think it slows the progression of the disease.”

Former IU Basketball Coach Bob Knight taught Kitchell lessons in life. (Submitted photo)

“After he got into doing the workout classes and everything, I think his doctors really noticed a significant change,” Mackenzie said. “We had a meeting with all the top doctors and organizers of foundations and fundraisers. The IU School of Medicine was really supportive. All of the people involved have been really great. It’s just something that we became very passionate about very quickly. As soon as my dad got diagnosed, we jumped into research and it became a passion of all of ours and really close to all of our hearts.”

Find the Ted Kitchel Parkinson’s Disease Research Fund on Facebook. To donate to the Ted Kitchel Parkinson’s Disease Research Fund, visit myiu.org/one-time-gift.