April is National Parkinson's Awareness Month. A Tampa Bay area man with Parkinson's is on a mission to tell others about the disease, and he's raising money for a cure. In fact, he actually considers his diagnosis a blessing in disguise.
It's said a picture tells a thousand words.
"Eyes tell so much [about] a person and the soul. So that was the major focus of this," Ron Czerniec said.
Czerniec has always loved art, but he says his real potential for painting was unleashed after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
"Life is like a teeter totter. It takes one thing. It goes down to this side -- which was my health and Parkinson's, the other side came up, which was my art. It just started to really explode. And I really felt good about what I was doing," Czerniec said.
He credits deep brain stimulation surgery with significantly reducing his tremors, allowing him to create beautiful paintings.
"I'm a very lucky man in a lot of ways," he said.
And as Czerniec has dealt with the debilitating disease over the last 16 years, he's learned a lot about it.
"Today, 160 people will be diagnosed with Parkinson's. That's one every nine minutes," Czerniec said.
All of that has given him a deep desire to make a difference. So as part of Parkinson's awareness month, he teamed up with another artist, Dayna Elefant, to create beautiful banners for an effort he's calling "Paint the Town with Tulips."
They're being sold to display in businesses nationwide, with all proceeds benefiting the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
"There's a lot of research being done. I do believe we're this close, yet that far. We just need to pull a little more together," Czerniec said.
His goal is to sell 1,000 banners, raising $250,000 for Parkinson's research.
"If I can be an inspiration to show what you can still do...You know, the word disability, if you take the 'dis' off and focus on the 'abiilty,' that's really what I want to try to do," Czerniec said.
He's proving one person, and a passion for painting, can really make a difference in the world.