Members of the Jersey City community are doing amazing things not just at home but around the world. Take Joanne Simmons, a local resident for almost 20 years, who will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro this August as part of a fundraiser for the The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. She will be joining a small group of participants on this 11-day journey, including three climbers who have Parkinson’s disease.

This enormous undertaking is personal for Simmons, whose own father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2021. “Witnessing the impact of Parkinson’s Disease on my father’s life has been heart-wrenching, and it has inspired me to take action. I am determined to raise awareness and funds for The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to find a cure for this debilitating disease.” Simmons is currently listed as one of the top three fundraisers on the trip page.

Joanne Simmons

To prepare for the physical difficulties of the trip, which include hiking at high altitudes, unpredictable weather, rough terrain, and long stretches of climbing, Simmons has been training eight to ten hours per week. Her regimen includes trampoline classesrowing classes, and seven-mile walks with a weighted vest in Liberty State Park. 

Simmons also owns her own Jersey City-based jewelry business, Silver Sculptor, where she sells special Mountain Earrings and a Mountain Necklace that she’s made, with all proceeds from those two items benefiting the Fox Foundation. Says Simmons, “These pieces represent the challenges we face every day and serve as a reminder that every challenge is achievable if we take one step at a time.” 

Featured photo by Balazs Simon

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Emily Scott

Emily was born and raised in New Jersey, and graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in architecture. She has a background in design, public health, radio, and comedy.