Michael Cheung (pictured, right) was about ten years old when his father was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson's disease (YOPD). At such a young age, Michael struggled with the thought of having a parent with an incurable disease, and often saw it as being unfair. Now, at 27, his perspective has changed. He understands that while life can throw you curveballs, we have the opportunity to make the most of our circumstances. Michael reasons, "if I can help even two other people as a result of my experiences, maybe this gives my family's struggle some meaning and purpose".
Earlier this year, Michael, a Chartered Accountant, began to brainstorm ways to channel his passion to help people with Parkinson's. At the time, it just so happened that he was consuming two to three cups of coffee a day and experiencing some side effects from overconsumption. He began sampling various alternatives to coffee that would still provide him with an energy boost. Eventually, he came across matcha green tea. Thanks to the presence of the amino acid L-Theanine, matcha tea releases caffeine into the body at a slower rate than coffee, leading to a longer lasting, energizing effect. Eventually, Michael personally made the switch to matcha tea as his energizing beverage of choice. He loved it so much he decided to make matcha tea the focus of his business/fundraiser for Parkinson's disease (PD). TeaParky was born.
"Parky" is an affectionate term used by the global Parkinson's community to describe an individual with Parkinson's disease. Michael references this term by naming his initiative TeaParky, and selling matcha tea online. The company also sells t-shirts, hats and mugs with the slogan #BeatParky. Net proceeds from sales are split in thirds to benefit three different PD organizations, one of which is Parkinson Society British Columbia.
Michael now believes that everything happens for a reason, and that giving back to the PD community is his purpose in life. He explains, "sometimes life isn't fair. As much as it sucks, you can either complain about it for the rest of your life, or you can do something about it." Ultimately, he says his goal is to help raise awareness about Parkinson's disease to help those currently affected by it achieve a greater standard of living. He hopes that, eventually, a cure is found.
"Some people go through life never finding the one thing they're truly passionate about, whether it be a job, a person, an idea, a hobby or a place. If you're ever lucky enough to find it, please pursue it with everything you've got, for all those who wish they did or still could. Finding a cure may take 5 years, it may take 25 years or it may even take 225 years. In fact, there's a chance we may never find a cure. But I'm only 27 and I will fight back against Parkinson's for as long as I live. I've simply lost too much."
For a more detailed description of Michael's story, visit https://teaparky.com/pages/my-story.