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Sep 26, 2013 7:59 PM by John Patrick

Michael J. Fox puts Parkinson's back in prime time

TUCSON - Tusconans living with Parkinson's disease hope a new show will bring the disease into the spotlight.

A new show with a familiar face premiers on KVOA this evening. The Michael J. Fox Show has the star returning to the small screen after more than a decade due to his battle with Parkinson's. The former Family Ties actor plays a family man also dealing with the disease.

With the face of the nation's nearly one million Parkinson's patients back in prime time so is the disease that affects so many including Tucsonans Hal Cowart and Gordon Lehamn. The two have been living with Parkinson's for a combined 17 years but still don't let the disease hold them back.

"Parkinson's doesn't limit you more than you want to be limited," explains Lehman.

Parkinson's affects nerve cells in the brain that control muscle movement. Symptoms like trembling limbs, slow movement and speech gradually worsen as the disease progresses.

The disease affects nearly 1 in every 500 people but some of those living with it think there may not be enough concern for Parkinson's at this time.

Lehman says, "The average public doesn't realize what could be done versus what is being done."

But nothing has done more for Parkinson's disease than the Michael J. Fox Foundation. The organization has raised more than $350 million for research into the disease.

"I think he's done a good job and to see him continue with his life and not let it take over his life has been helpful. I really applaud that," says Cowart.

With Parkinson's in prime time and spreading awareness some of those who are living with the disease are happy that the show displays a lighter side to a serious situation.

"You can have a sense of humor and we do. One of the greatest gifts that we have dealing with this is our sense of humor," explains Cowart.

For research updates and daily inspiration for Parkinson's patients visit The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.

The Michael J. Fox Show premiers tonight at 8pm Central time with a regular time slot set for Thursday at 8:30pm. For more information click here.

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