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Islander Turns Passion into Support for Parkinson's Disease

March 2020

Mayor David McCann as seen in Celebrate Hilton Head Magazine

Hilton Head Island has beautiful scenes from sunrises and sunsets to our beaches and golf courses. These very scenes captured the attention of islander and photographer Jeffrey Keefer, whom I would describe as a pretty amazing and giving person. I was so moved by Jeffrey's photo art at his gallery that I thought I would share about a project he is passionately involved in. I think it's good to know about people in our community who are doing great things to benefit others.

Jeffrey is chairman of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research and owner of VIVID Gallery in the Shops at Sea Pines Center. There is a unique connection between these two entities. Jeffrey is among the seven to 10 million people worldwide who suffer with Parkinson's disease, a brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance and coordination. To help people understand the effects of this disease and raise money for Parkinson's research, Jeffrey compiled many of his wonderful photos into a book titled Vivid. Proceeds from his book will be donated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation and two local charities: Hilton Head Heroes and the Sea Pines Forest Preserve. That is a wonderful gesture from someone in our community. Jeffrey's act of kindness is worth knowing about.

A retired DuPont Company executive, Jeffrey was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2007. In his bio, Jeffrey shared that he never took photographs and did not have a creative bone in his body before his diagnosis. He described his diagnosis as a new awakening that spurred a heightened sense of creativity and a desire to be more spontaneous.

After retiring in 2010, Jeffrey pursued his new passion and became involved in Parkinson’s research. He co-founded the Panorama Patient Educational Foundation and continues to serve as an advisor. He also joined the board of directors of the Michael J. Fox Foundation in 2013 and assumed the chairmanship in 2015. He serves on the Advisory Board of the Institute on Aging at the University of Pennsylvania, and the board of directors of the Philadelphia Parkinson Council. Jeff and his wife, Anne, established the Jeff & Anne Keefer Fund for Parkinson's Research at the University of Pennsylvania.

We live in a community with an aging population, active retirees and working adults. Diseases like Parkinson's can afflict persons in any of these groups, and when they do, we search for answers and cures. Jeffrey's labor of love will certainly contribute to answers we need and perhaps help sufferers of Parkinson's lead better lives. I appreciate that he is using his photography to raise support for a national organization and giving back to charities in our community. This is important work and I commend Jeffrey for using his condition to advance education and research.