Charity Spotlight - The Marv Bossart Foundation for Parkinson's Support

Jarod DCamp & Douglas Carrier

Many of us know someone with Parkinson’s Disease, have Parkinson’s or have watched someone we love struggle with the disease.  

We are proud to be supporters of the Marv Bossart Foundation for Parkinson's Support, whose mission is to provide resources to Parkinson's Disease patients and caregivers in the Fargo-Moorhead area and whose namesake was a true pillar in the community. 

For today's feature we sat down with Elizabeth Bossart Mathison, the Volunteer Director of the Marv Bossart Foundation for Parkinson's Support (MBF), to learn more about the great work they are doing in the community.

What is the Marv Bossart Foundation (MBF) and what work are you doing in the local community?

MBF is a fiscal project of Dakota Medical Foundation in Fargo, ND that helps fund local and regional Parkinson’s programs for patients such as education, equipment, support, exercise therapies and other support programs.

What is the MBF’s mission?

Our mission is to be able to help people living with Parkinson's disease by funding local and regional resources for Parkinson's patients, such as education, equipment and Parkinson's specific programming and support so that they can manage symptoms better, feel better and have the support they need.

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How does the MBF impact our community?

The MBF impacts our community by raising awareness about the prevalence of Parkinson’s disease in our area so that more people will seek the support and therapies they need to feel better and we impact the community by growing and adding new support programs and therapies through our financial grants.

How did the MBF begin?

The MBF was established in 2013 by the family of Marv Bossart who passed away from effects of the disease. Marv anchored the evening news at WDAY in Fargo for 42 years and became the most familiar voice in the history of the Red River Valley broadcast region. He also taught a generation of aspiring news reporters and anchors as a writing and introductory journalism instructor at Minnesota State University Moorhead for 37 years. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s a year after his retirement and made his illness public to endorse the importance of exercise  and speech and physical therapy programs. In his memory, Marv’s family came forward to develop a local Parkinson’s foundation that honors his legacy and makes a difference in the lives of others who live with the effects of the illness.

How is the MBF funded; how many employees and volunteers do you have?

The MBF is run by members of Marv’s family and an advisory board and is funded by individual donors through local fundraising efforts.

How does the MBF use any contributions, monetary or otherwise?

The MBF uses funds that are raised to provide specialized walkers to people with Parkinson’s who cannot afford them, help fund local education initiatives that provide information to caregivers so they can improve the quality of care for PD patients, we fund support group activities, specialized exercise therapies and other PD specific programs.

Could you highlight and explain an initiative or program that the Marv Bossart Foundation is particularly proud of?

One initiative we are excited about is our partnership with HERO Fargo who locates new and used U-step walkers and stocks them so PD patients can go there and essentially get one for no cost due to funding by the MBF if they qualify under HERO’s guidelines. The walkers range in price from $250-$800 so oftentimes they are unaffordable for people on a fixed income so with the MBF covering the cost, the patient can have a safe and stable walker that will help them in their daily lives.

What outcomes has the MBF seen through its work?

We have impacted those with Parkinson’s in a positive way by providing walkers that have helped patients get around easier and not fall, by helping fund a new study that implements music and balance exercises that are proven to improve the patient’s balance and motor skills, therefore helping them be more independent and rely less on caregivers to help them and we’ve also seen an increase in better care for PD patients by caregivers at assisted living facilities & nursing homes, all of which help that patient have more comfortable and easier days.

What are the MBF's goals in the next three to five years?

Our goals for the next 5 years are to increase the number of people receiving specialized walkers, increase the number of exercise facilities in ND and western MN that have Parkinson’s specific exercise programs and increase statewide awareness of PD so more areas of the state will have Parkinson’s support programming.

How will these goals be achieved?

These goals will be achieved by spreading the word about our foundation and Parkinson’s in general through social media and other marketing efforts as well as continued fundraising.

What message would you hope to share with potential participants or supporters of the Integreon Charity Challenge?

Our message to potential participants in the Charity Challenge is to come out and meet others with Parkinson’s and their family members, walk, run or just visit with others who are or have been affected by Parkinson’s disease and raise money so that we can continue to provide support and new programs for those with Parkinson’s.

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Why should the community donate or volunteer to help the Marv Bossart Foundation?

Many community members know someone with Parkinson’s, have Parkinson’s themselves or have watched someone they love struggle with the disease and by supporting the MBF they can be a part of a community and state-wide effort to make lives easier for those living with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers.