A Minnesota man is shining light on Parkinson's disease with a spectacular Christmas light show.
Mike Justak, of Plymouth, has synchronized 58,000 lights – one for each newly diagnosed case of Parkinson's disease in 2014 – to popular tunes and Christmas carols to spread awareness about the disease he's been battling for the last decade.
Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement, for some that means tremors, but for Justak he stiffens up.
"I want my legs to move, take a step, but my legs don't want to move," He told KARE 11. "Instead of my body moving uncontrollably, I can't control my body to get it moving."
As his symptoms worsen the work to put on the PD Shimmers light show gets more difficult, but he says it gives him a sense of purpose, and he hopes it will inspire others who are also living with the disease.
“I want people with Parkinson’s to be able to garner some inspiration in what I do,” Justak told the Sun Sailor. “I want them to think, ‘if he can do all this, maybe I could do a push up, pedal a bike or go for a walk.’”
Justak started PD Shimmers in 2010, and the light show has grown each year. It took nearly 300 hours to program the songs and he spends much of the year developing the display.
“I’d like not to have a show next year, but the only thing that would stop me is a cure,” Justak told the Sun Sailor. “I’ll shimmer as long as there are those who tremor.”
PD Shimmers is just part of what Justak does. Through his nonprofit foundation, the Mike Justak Foundation for Parkinson's Disease, he raises funds to give away exercise therapy books and resources and donate Wii video game systems to patients with Parkinson's – research has shown using the Wii can help with symptoms of Parkinson's.
He was also recently honored with the 2014 Paul M. Silverstein Award for his "outstanding achievements for the Parkinson's community of the Upper Midwest," according to his website.
The light show runs 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. nightly through December at eight homes on Ithaca Lane in Plymouth. The music is broadcast on the radio, so people can listen from inside their cars. And every Saturday night in December, people can pick which songs are played, like a juke box, according to the PD Shimmers Facebook page.
There's a box to donate to his foundation in his front yard, or people can donate through the PD Shimmers website.
For those who can't make it to the show, Justak also streams it online here.