Joy Schaaf

Joy Schaaf

Joy Schaaf

Joy, according to her mother, was invited to speak at the board of education meeting last Thursday, and a book Joy penned last year will be read by her to her class this week.

It was her teacher last year that observed Joy shaking while  doing fine motor activities.

“She’s not too severe yet,” said her mother. “She needs help pouring things and needs different accommodations.”

Joy has written to various media and has even asked the Darke County commissioners to make March Essential Tremor Awareness Month in Darke County. That will be signed soon.

She will also be setting up a table at the Swinging 8’s Square Dance Club on March 24 to pass out bookmarks and fliers about essential tremor. “I am going to put out posters around the county and read a book to my classmates that I wrote last year,” she said. “People can find my book at the Greenville Public Library and I donated one to the Springfield library. Eikenberry’s is going to put fliers in their grocery bags for me, and Bob Evans is allowing me to have a fundraiser April 13-15.”

She said if people would like to help with the fundraiser at Bob Evans in Greenville, they need to take her flier to the restaurant when they eat those three days. “Bob Evans will donate 15 percent to the International Essential Tremor Foundation,” she said.

Joy loves school. “I like it all,” said Joy. “I like homework and read. It’s fun.”

She wants to try out for the East Echoes when she is a fourth-grader, and will sign up for cheerleading.

Her favorite subject is science, and she likes to read about cheetahs and leopards. “I can’t tell if my writing is shaky or not and I don’t think the teachers recognize it either,” she said.

At recess, she likes talking with her friends and playing freeze tag. Her evenings are spent doing homework and on Wednesdays, she goes to Logos Bible study at her church.

Her family used to live in Springfield and is now living in the Union City, Ohio, area, with their chihuahua, Princess Ginger.

ET, according to Joy in a letter to The Daily Advocate, is where people shake with their head, hands and voice.

“If a person has ET, they cannot control their shaking,” she said. “About 10 million people have ET in the United States. ET is not a disease like Parkinson’s. You can inherit it from your family and it is not contagious. Most people don’t know what ET is so I want to raise awareness for it.”

While ET is not life-threatening, it is a serious and progressive condition that can significantly affect a person’s quality of life…socially, professionally and emotionally. People with ET often have difficulty with everyday activities, such as getting dressed, drinking, speaking or writing.

It was noted that despite the numerous people directly affected by ET, there is still little awareness of the disorder. In fact, ET is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s disease, but ET is eight times more common than Parkinson’s.

Getting proper diagnosis for tremor is a key step in seeking treatment, managing the condition and raising awareness with others to foster understanding. It afflicts people of all ages, including newborns.