A prestigious award for volunteerism has been presented to the founder of an organization helping people with Parkinson’s disease enjoy the great outdoors through hiking.
Bill Meyer is the recipient of the 2023 AARP Washington Andrus Award for Community Service. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2009. In 2016, Meyer decided to go on a hike, inspiring the founding of PasstoPass.
“The recognition is great,” Meyer acknowledged. “We’ve come a long ways in nine years, but the success of PasstoPass doesn’t depend just on me. We’re an all-volunteer organization.”
PasstoPass has six chapters, each starting up by organizing multiday hikes. The trips rely on a variety of supporters, including llamas to carry hiking gear. More than 21,000 people in Washington state have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation.
Meyer pointed out last year, PasstoPass started organizing day trips as well.
“We realized that more people want to do day hikes than they do multiday hikes, or they may not be capable of multiday hikes,” Meyer explained. “We want them out exercising and it minimizes the symptoms of Parkinson’s, the more exercise you get.”
As part of the award, AARP Washington has presented $2,000 to Meyer’s organization.
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