HAPS proudly honored, Nina Proler Brown in 2021. From the moment she was diagnosed in 1985, Nina never stopped learning all she could about the disease. She lived her life with purpose, dignity despite all the challenges that came with being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Her lifelong compassion for others became focused on those affected by Parkinson’s disease–individuals who have been diagnosed, their family members, and their friends. Sadly, we said goodbye to Nina on March 28, 2022. She spent every moment of her journey trying to make the Parkinson's world better for others. HAPS was proud and honored to know Nina as a friend and as family.
Because of her selflessness, and despite her own physical limitations, Nina was a tremendous advocate for the Parkinson’s community. Always with a positive and proactive message, she became a local celebrity as a volunteer speaker to help to educate the public about Parkinson’s disease. Nina lent her name, helping to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for various local Parkinson’s projects. She was instrumental in the inauguration and success of Houston Area Parkinson Society (HAPS) Polo for Parkinson’s and helped to produce a gala benefiting HAPS which Muhammad Ali attended. Nina, her late husband Joe, and her entire family walked and raised funds for HAPS as a participating charity in the Chevron Houston Marathon.
For many years Nina wrote and edited HAPS’ monthly newsletter as a volunteer, showing extraordinary commitment to the organization and the Parkinson’s community. Nina also produced videos showing the range of HAPS programs including, The Parkinson Project: Mission Possible and Hope.
As a well-known resource for senators and congressmen Nina and Joe were honored at the Morris K. Udall Awards Dinner in Washington, DC, for outstanding advocacy for the Parkinson’s movement. Nina served as a founding Board Member of The Alliance for Medical Research and Texans for Advancement of Medical Research. For “unending courage and tenacity advocating for stem-cell research,” she was presented with Hadassah’s Women of Courage Award in 2009.
In her more than 20 years of service on HAPS boards, Nina helped lay the groundwork as the organization changed and grew to provide resources to thousands of people with Parkinson’s and their families. Nina provided inspiration as a role-model to her peers living with PD–always encouraging others to live their best life no matter the obstacles, to find hope in the darkness and to fight with grace and courage.
Admired throughout our nation and the world, President George H. W. Bush connected with Houston residents in unique and meaningful ways. In 2018, the Bush family granted HAPS the privilege of naming the organization’s newest award in his honor. The President George H. W. Bush Award is inspired by the humanitarian legacy the 41st President created in 1990 by signing the Americans with Disabilities Act into law. This landmark piece of civil rights legislation has had a far-reaching impact on the lives of those with mobility challenges. As an individual who lived with vascular parkinsonism, President Bush set a shining example for countless people who live with Parkinson’s and related disorders and confronted the condition with unfaltering optimism.
Nina Brown’s lifetime of good works made her a well-deserving recipient of the HAPS President George H. W. Bush Award. In true spirit and shared legacy, she made a significant difference and created an enduring impression in our community. She lived every moment of her 38-year expereince with the diagnosis with purpose without letting the challenges of life with Parkinson’s interfere with her passion to help others.
As one of the greatest advocates for the Houston Parkinson’s community and as the first-ever recipient of this esteemed award, HAPS honored Nina throughout the month of April 2021. Nina touched the lives of so many people around the world who sent HAPS pictures, videos and tributes to Nina.
ABOUT THE PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH AWARD
George H.W. Bush, the 41st President
As an organization, we pay tribute to former President George H.W. Bush. A man who was admired throughout our nation and world, President Bush connected with Houstonians and HAPS in unique and deeply meaningful ways.
At the 2018 Annual Awards Gala, Houston Area Parkinson Society celebrated the establishment of the President George H.W. Bush Award. This new award was inspired by the humanitarian legacy the 41st President created in 1990 by signing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. This landmark piece of civil rights legislation has had a far-reaching impact on the lives of those with disabilities by establishing a clear and comprehensive nationwide mandate for the elimination of discrimination for individuals with disabilities.
They call it vascular Parkinsonism. It just affects the legs… It is hard, because I love being active, [playing] sports, being in the game… But you just face the reality and make the best of it.
-President George H.W. Bush, Parade Magazine 2012
The goals of the ADA focused on community integration, participation, and enhancement of the independence of people with disabilities at home, at work, and throughout the course of their daily lives. This law supported equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency. It created renewed hope and fostered determination and promoted self-worth and accomplishment in others. These values, along with the fortitude and resilience with which President Bush faced life with vascular Parkinsonism are ideals that we share and embrace as an organization.
President Bush’s unfaltering optimism with which he confronted his own condition set a shining example for countless people who live with Parkinson’s and related disorders.
ABOUT THE AWARD ARTIST
Designed by artist Tom Bennett, who had Parkinson’s disease, the President George H. W. Bush Award’s brushed pewter graceful yet powerful lines and curves rest on a marble base. Entitled “Boundless,” the sculpture twists and turns to form a striking shape reminiscent of an infinity symbol. It symbolizes the unending, ever-present, “boundless” energy, drive and determination of those that truly make an impact.
THE HOPE VIDEO
Because of the work she had done, her determination and positive spirit, Nina was asked to make a presentation on "Hope” as a keynote speaker for a statewide Parkinson’s meeting in Arizona. It was while she was putting together this presentation that she realized how essential hope is in the lives of everyone, not just those with Parkinson's. Subsequently, she took her message of hope on the road, presenting it nationally. Nina was a firm believer in “accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative.” She emphasized that with all that is bad, there is good to be found. She always found a way to make the most out of the life she had been given, to have fun and to never give up hope. If you don't believe in the importance of hope, we know you will by the end of this video.