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Bill Meyer of Spokane receives 2023 AARP Andrus Award for Community Service

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After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2009 at the age of 57, Bill Meyer of Spokane went on the offensive using his love of the outdoors to help others. In 2016, he founded PasstoPass, a non-profit helping people with Parkinson’s to continue backpacking and hiking as a form of symptom mitigation. Starting with just one hike in 2016, the effort has grown to six regional chapters and a total of 7,549 cumulative miles hiked.

In recognition of his service to others, AARP has awarded Bill with the 2023 Washington Andrus Award for Community Service - the Association’s most prestigious and visible volunteer award.

Studies have proven that vigorous exercise improves Parkinson’s symptoms and may slow the progression of the disease. PasstoPass trips help people diagnosed with Parkinson's live in the moment, experience exhilarating physical activity, challenge themselves, celebrate success, and experience the joy of being outdoors.

“Bill is a living example of someone who demonstrates that older people and especially those with Parkinson's have value and can still do the things they love despite the challenges of life,” says Derek Torry, Pass to Pass President, who nominated Bill for the Andrus Award.

“Overcoming those hurdles with a small group of people who have the same disease draws people together to encourage each other and to share the issues the disease has on one another in a safe place,” he said. “Many who participate on his trips never imagined they could accomplish such a physically demanding trip - Bill has shown them they can still accomplish great things.”

“This award acts as a symbol to the public that we can all work together for positive social change,” says Marguerite Ro, AARP Washington State Director. “AARP has long valued the spirit of volunteerism and the important contributions volunteers make to their communities, neighbors, and the programs they serve.”

As part of the recognition, AARP Washington will present a $2,000 donation to Bill's organization, PasstoPass, so they can continue their efforts to share a healthy, active lifestyle to those with Parkinson's disease. The award will be formally presented to Bill at a ceremony on December 13.

Recipients across the nation were chosen for their ability to enhance the lives of AARP members and prospective members, improve the community in or for which the work was performed, and inspire others to volunteer.

A hearty congratulations to Bill and his PasstoPass team for embodying Dr. Andrus' motto of "To Serve, Not be Served."

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