October 6, 2003
Thomasville - Gary Palmer supervises his landscaping crew at Greenwood planation.
He's worked here for 28 years, Michael Ackerman has worked with him for
18 of those years.
"He's a pretty good bossman and he's been caring about the workers," says Michael. "He sees about us, and is really concerned about us and he takes care of everything pretty good."
But becoming the bossman, wasn't easy for Gary.
"He was afraid to promote me because of my disability," Gary says about his former boss.
Gary has been living with dystonia, a disease that effects his speech and
causes muscle spasms, for 26 years. He knew something was wrong with
him since his childhood, but he wasn't properly diagnosed until 1996. Now he wants to raise awareness of the disease.
Gary says we should, "Realize that just because someone looks or sounds different, it doesn't mean that they're stupid or dumb."
But a cure for this disease may be on the way.
"I really believe there's hope for this," says medical neurologist Edmund Molis. "I think once
we come to understand the mechanics that produce these disorders we'll
probably have more effective, less invasive treatments."
And that's good news for Gary. Next week is dystonia awareness week. More than 300,000 in North America are affected by the disease every year.