JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When a family member gets sick with a debilitating disease, most family members do all they can to care for their loved one. A Clay County woman went way beyond that to honor her mother and bring awareness to Parkinson's disease.
Jen Otero, her father John Hollinger and two sisters had to recently put Lorraine Hollinger in a nursing home at the unusually young age of 64. She suffers from Parkinson's disease.
"Nine years ago I had to move here," said Otero. "Because my mom was having symptoms that she could not even in her mid-50's feed herself. So I moved here, we were getting misdiagnosed, finally we got diagnosed correctly through the UF Neuroscience Institute , and from that day on we have done everything we can to make sure she had the care that she needed."
Otero decided she wanted to create an event, a 5K run in honor of her mother and got the support of the UF Neuroscience Institute and her mother's doctor, Odinachi Oguh. After more than a year of planning, the inaugural run took place at Riverside Park Sunday, to raise money for research, caregivers support, and bring awareness to the disease.
"I want people to know that Parkinson's is a disease that people have that are not just old, this is not an old person's disease. This is a disease that effects everybody, especially the caregivers who just don't have the support other diseases have."
As Otero organized the event, she learned more people were effected by this disease than she ever knew like Krystal Hall who ran for her best friend Patti Howell.
"She's fighting this and I figured this is the least I can do to fight along with her. We are going to fight it," said Hall as she embraced Howell.
Otero's sisters Alicia and Vanessa flew from their homes in Hawaii to support their sister.
"My sister is just a true inspiration," said Alicia Hollinger. "When she first talked to her family about her vision for this day I did not realize the magnitude of what would happen , just the support from the community , from friends, and family, loved ones. Words can't explain, I am overwhelmed with emotion , just love for what my sister did here today. "
Dr Oguh says Otero did a wonderful job organizing the run and she's pleased to have more money for research of a disease she says is not a death sentence.
"A disease that has medications that can help people, and with ongoing research we are finding new and better ways to help people live longer lives with Parkinson's disease," said Dr. Oguh.
Otero's goal was to raise $10,000 and she feels she will reach that goal, a huge success on her first try to honor her mother and support her father.
"This is my way of showing how much I love them, my way of showing how much I care."
Otero will organize a run again next year. More than 500 participated in the 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run on Sunday morning.