RICHARDSON -- Life as a Marine taught Jason Arwine to adapt, overcome, and endure; training that came in handy for a startling medical diagnosis two years ago, at the age of 33.

'Young early onset Parkinson's disease,' Arwine said. 'Military prepares you for quite a lot, but not this particular instance, in this case.'

Medication helps control his tremors. Voice therapy helps strengthen his speech, something his fiancee had noticed was slipping.

'I would have a hard time hearing what he was saying or he would mumble,' Heather Shotwell said. 'So I would have to ask him, 'What did you just say?' And have to ask him repeat himself.'

'Parkinson's affects the movements of the muscles over the whole body,' said Kay Wiley, a speech language pathologist, 'including the muscles of speech and swallowing.'

Wiley said 90 percent of Parkinson's patients eventually develop difficulty with speech.

Therapy at the Parkinson's Voice Project in Richardson teaches patients to speak with intention. The mission of the non-profit organization is 'to preserve the voices of individuals with Parkinson's and related neurological disorders through intensive voice therapy, follow up support, research, education, and community awareness.'

'My voice has gotten a lot better than it was,' said Arwine, who is just a month into the voice lessons. 'A lot less leaning in, a lot less confused looks, a lot less, 'Hey, can you repeat yourself?' or 'Huh?' So that's improved quite a bit.'

Thanks to voice therapy, Jason Arwine hopes to say the two most important words of intent of his life to his fiancee, Heather, at their wedding.

'I do,' he said firmly.


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