Baseball in the Kopacz family is a big deal, especially Twins baseball. I wanted to be the next Kent Hrbek, I cried when Kirby retired, I still get chills when I hear “and we’ll see you tomorrow night” and it feels like yesterday when my dad and I were hugging and screaming alongside the 4 million people that were at game 7 in 1991 (you will have to watch the Diamond Awards to understand that joke, thanks TK!). My dad and I brought Luca to opening day at Target Field in 2010, I’m sure he doesn’t remember anything about the game but I wasn’t going to let that moment pass without him. Luckily, I did because in the top of the first Kevin Youkilis hit a foul ball and with Luca sleeping in my right arm I stood up and snatched the second foul ball in target field history with my left hand! Fast forward to the spring of 2014, I just started my career with Polaris, Charlie and Sofia turned 1 and that summer the MN Twins hosted the all-star game with the homerun derby on the night of my birthday. Kristi and I just made it through the toughest most rewarding year of our lives and then we were run over by my diagnosis of PD in late June. I was looking so forward to the all-star weekend and 2 weeks before it we had to process the diagnosis and figure out if we had to tell my family before the weekend or not. I knew how much my dad was looking forward to the weekend so I decided that we should wait until after the all-Star game to tell them. The all-Star game allowed me and Kristi to try to forget about the uncertainty of my diagnosis for a couple of hours and enjoy the festivities at Target Field.
When Eva contacted us about sharing our PD journey at the 2019 Diamond Awards the answer had to be yes! The Diamond Awards are a yearly celebration that brings together the MN Twins and the University of MN to raise money for research efforts towards finding a cure for not only PD but many other neurological diseases. The University of MN foundation raised over $300,000, had 600+ people attended that night with 23 representing Team Kopacz! The MN Twins and the University of MN are great ambassadors for the state of Minnesota and the Midwest, both organizations work hard to make our communities better. It was an honor to share our story and have Team Kopacz coupled with two great organizations.
As a MN Twins fan this time of year always bring optimism, spring training is here, everyone is discussing the impact players and if the Twins can pull it together for another magical run like in 1987 and 1991! My take away from the Diamond Awards is that the Twins are assembling a team not only focused on wins and losses but they are also focused on giving back. I hope our paths cross again!
Over the next couple weeks, we will be finalizing the golf tournament. We will be sending out the information on 3/1/19.
One of our goals this year is to run one race per month. So far, we are 2 for 2 (Disney Half in January and Valentine’s day 5K in February). If anyone is interested in running with Team Kopacz, we are signed up to run the Hot Dash on March 23rd (10 miles) and Goldy’s run on 4/7/19 (5k).
There are a few days in everyone’s life that you can look back and say, ‘that was the day my life changed forever. I knew immediately as I walked out of my doctor’s appointment on June 27th, 2014 everything in our life was just flipped upside down. I called Kristi, told her that the doctor was confident I had YOPD and what the next steps were. However, it wasn’t a slam dunk diagnosis. I had many tests over the next couple months to confirm the initial diagnosis. That October we took a trip to the Mayo clinic for a DAT Scan, that was the last piece in the 3-month long diagnosis process, our life did change forever on June 27th, 2014.
I met Kristi on 6/24/05, we were engaged on 9/23/06, married on 5/5/07, moved to Bologna, Italy on 9/23/08, 5/13/09 Luca was born, 3/16/11 Henry was born 1/23/13 Charlie and Sofia were born, July 14th is my birthday but it is also a reminder of a huge loss to our family. All these days contribute to who we are but those days didn’t significantly alter the course of our life like 6/27/14. The following Tuesday, 7/1/14, we had a second opinion at the University of MN with Dr. Tuite. After a few hours of discussion, we had a plan. I had to stay active! I had to build strength and endurance. On the way home we both bought Fitbits. That night our elliptical was used for exercise rather than a clothes hanger (see picture of me and my dad at the MLB All Star game in 2014, I was 292 lbs and 2 weeks after initial diagnosis) Over the next 4+ years we have maintained the active lifestyle Dr. Tuite told us I needed to have.
In the next couple weeks, we will be updating our website with details for the 2nd annual golf tournament and a couple new adventures we are working on.
Thanks for supporting our journey. To be clear we are fighting a tough opponent but we remain optimistic that if we win today there may be a cure tomorrow!
The first person to guess my current weight correctly, to the nearest whole pound, will win a Team Kopacz shirt. Email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org
Jason and Kristi
Title of blog from Ben Newman, link below:
Exercise is the only countermeasure to slow the progression of Parkinson's disease. Our journey started in July of 2014 when Jason was diagnosed with PD at the age of 36. Since that day we have been living an extremely active life style. This blog will be mainly focused on the activities that support the day to day changes PD throws at us!