As a 30-year veteran of the tour and travel industry, Sandy Curtis’s outgoing, upbeat personality has served her well. To meet her is to be embraced with joy, laughter, and positive energy. She’s traveled many miles and made many clients smile as they created memories.
But her most challenging trip, one that she shares with so many others, is her daily walk with ET.
Sandy’s journey with ET may sound familiar. When the symptoms first appeared, she avoided diagnosis even though she knew something wasn’t right. She’d seen the tremor before, in her father’s hands, as he aged. Ten years of worry and frustration passed; finally, two years ago, she mustered the courage to see a neurologist, and received her diagnosis of ET.
“The fear consumed me,” she says. “I didn’t want to hear Parkinson’s disease. I tried to hide the fact that I couldn’t sign my name, write a letter, jot down a quick note or telephone number. In public, there was the fear of signing a guest book at functions, personal information at doctor’s office, or being handed a pen to sign a group get-well card.”
In typical fashion, Sandy now is determined to help others as they navigate the trials and tribulations of life with ET. Based in Overland Park, Kan., she volunteers for the IETF. Currently, that includes leading a support group. “I’m committed to raising awareness and support in whatever way I’m able,” she says.
And make no mistake, Sandy is able—able to do so many things.
When she’s not working as a tour director, she travels the country with her husband, Geoff, a retired airline captain (“He drives, I talk,” she jokes). For her church, she volunteers as a camp counselor and leads a ministry dedicated to finding fresh ways to perform random acts of kindness. She and Geoff also enjoy being an active part of their grandchildren’s lives—“we call ourselves the B Team, assisting our children where we can,” she says.
Her bucket list includes wanting to write a book entitled “From Banana Splits to Buses.” “I worked in my parents’ ice cream store during high school as a soda jerk,” she says. “It taught me how to enjoy working with people and develop a talent and passion for service that has followed to this day.”
For Sandy, the ET journey provides proof that the destination is not always a place—sometimes, it’s a new way of looking at things. Participating in the video, she says, helped her come to better terms with her personal struggles with ET.
“I wanted to participate in the video to help others become aware of the support available,” she says. “I’ve learned coping skills. Just the act of educating others has given me a confidence to ask for assistance when I need it.”