Louisvillian encourages others to live life despite Parkinson’s

June 18, 2018

Former University of Louisville professor and corporate lawyer John Baumann was emotional hearing Robin Williams was in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. “The first thing that came to my mind was I wish there was someone there to tell him, you can live an amazing life with Parkinson’s.”

Baumann should know – he’s been living with the disease for 12 years. He was diagnosed at 41.

“I was in shock, disbelief, denial, shock whatever you want to call it,” he said of hearing the news.

He understands how the progressive disorder of the nervous system takes its toll physically and emotionally.

“I never knew depression until I got Parkinson’s,” he said. “I was driving my car one day and I went into the deepest darkest hole I’ve ever been in. I didn’t care if I lived or died, I know what it’s like to want to commit suicide.”

Baumann learned he had to take his medicine and he hasn’t had a suicidal thought since.

He also learned from celebrities like Louisville’s Muhammad Ali and Michael J Fox, calling them true leaders for staying in the spotlight and making a huge impact with research, donations and inspiration.

Baumann is doing the same thing with one book out, he’s a contributor to another and he travels the country giving motivational speeches.

A life worth living with Parkinson’s, thanks to the wisdom of Jim Valvano. He lives by his words allowing three things everyday: To laugh, to learn and to be emotional.

“When someone sees what I’m doing and feels the hope and draws that from me,” Baumann said, “I give them a big hug and it’s a human connection that doesn’t have any parallel that’s to me, why I do what I do.”

Baumann’s book is titled “Decide Success: You ain’t dead yet.” He says early diagnosis is critical and believes exercise and eating right are key.

He recently became a board member for the Parkinson Support Center of Kentuckiana.


We all felt inspired and enjoyed listening to your presentation. Even though we are not living with Parkinson’s, we felt boost of motivation to continue helping those who are living with this disease. I am motivated to make more personal phone calls to people living with PD and asking how they are doing. Sometimes that “extra” bit of kindness truly makes a difference to someone. I am also motivated to research program ideas and partner with other organizations that may have similar values.

I learned that life is unexpected and that you cannot control it. What matters is your attitude!

-Great way to end the day, brave man, thank you very much!

-Good, excellent, great, outstanding speaker, very moving!

-Inspirational who just “gets it”

-Positive thinker and very funny!

-Honest speaker but also humorous!

Parkinson’s Society of Southwest Ontario, Canada, Symposium Keynote Presentation

“whatever hand life deals you, whatever life changing adversity you have to endure, you still have some control over it.” “You don’t have to just to live well,” he advises,” but live an Amazing Life.” The formula he proposes: Faith in yourself, discipline, determination, desire, intensity, and inner strength.


Yes, you touched every person at our conference, who will in turn change and impact so many others. The feedback from our participants was overwhelmingly positive. You are the only speaker to ever receive a standing ovation. Thank you for taking time to share, motivate and inspire. We are blessed to know you.


I will be honest. During the first 10 minutes of your presentation, I started reading work related material on my laptop. For surely, I had watched your You-Tube and seen your videos and knew what to expect. Surely, as a therapist I had studied this disease, the pathological components, the psychological components, the treatment alternatives……..Surely, I understand it.

Not so much. You caught my attention and I was enthralled. You were able to couple the impairments you experience with the emotions felt. You walked us through your life with the disease through “your eyes”. A perspective that a therapist/nurse rarely has the chance to hear. We get so busy telling patients how to deal with x, y and z, but our eyes are blurred by the science of it all most of the time.

You did it through truth, Through your humor, humility and determination to tell your story. One that most deservedly needs to be shared.

I will advocate to have you share your story. I appreciate your determination, diligence and dedication.