Allan Goldberg

When InMotion co-founder, the late Allan Goldberg, was in his early fifties, he noticed something strange when he shaved in the morning. Instead of the steady grip he’d always had on his razor, his hand shook.

“He couldn’t put his finger on what might be wrong,” said his wife Terry, “but he just didn’t feel like himself.”

When the tremor didn’t go away and he began having trouble walking, Allan saw a doctor and heard the words many of us are all too familiar with: “you have Parkinson’s disease.” With that, the Goldbergs knew that the trajectory of their lives had changed. “We were on a new path,” daughter Jody Bell said.

At first, the new path was one that Allan and Terry travelled alone, fearing the stigma that so many people living with PD experience. They kept Allan’s diagnosis a secret from friends and, early on, from their four adult children. And once they shared the news with others, sadly some friends pulled away.

But for the Goldberg family, the diagnosis triggered discussion and memories. They remembered that their grandfather had a tremor and that there were unexplained neurological symptoms that impacted other family members. They speculated about environmental factors that could have triggered Allan’s PD. And they discussed ways Allan could continue to live his life to the fullest in ways that honored the things he had always loved.

The son of a Polish immigrant who arrived in the United States in the 1920s with not much more than the clothes on his back, Allan grew up in his father’s construction business and loved the process of creating something solid and tangible. “He had a great eye for floor plans and designs, almost an artistic flair,” said Jody Bell.

He also loved baseball, although he was skilled at every sport he played. In high school, Allan hung out with a group of guys who became lifelong friends. These guys also attracted a group of girls, including Terry Synenberg. Allan and Terry met when they were both just 15, but they figured out quickly that they were going to get married, which they did on Terry’s 21st birthday. 

“He was probably the best person I ever knew. Just really good. All through the years that I knew him, even when we weren’t together but just friends, I never heard a bad word about him, ever,” Terry remarked.

Terry and Allan began their family quickly, with son Danny arriving within the first year of their marriage. Three more children followed – Jody, Kathy, and then Lindsey.

Daughter Kathy Cohen remembers her dad being a hands-on, nurturing presence in the family’s life. “He showed up at everything we did, Jody’s horse shows, my tennis matches, every football game. And every night, he came to each of us, asking how special our day was, what we were looking forward to, how we were feeling. He was very connected. He was a pillar of strength.”

l-r: Danny, Jody, Lindsey and Kathy

After he received his Parkinson’s diagnosis, Allan began exercising with InMotion co-founder Ben Rossi. As an athlete, Allan knew how important exercise was to feeling fit and healthy — even more now that he was living with Parkinson’s disease.

He also discovered a hidden talent. “He hadn’t painted since high school and I suggested he start painting again,” said Terry. “I told him I was going to buy him some paints and a canvas.” Allan wasn’t sure this new hobby was a good idea, but Terry prevailed. “Three years later, he was asked to have a show at University Hospitals and we donated the proceeds to Michael J. Fox Foundation and the hospital.”

A second creative outlet that opened for Allan was developing the InMotion concept – a stigma-free, welcoming place where people with Parkinson’s disease could come together to exercise, to learn, to find support and community, all at no cost. As a builder, Allan knew that any structure is only as strong as its foundation and so with his co-founders Ben Rossi, Karen Jaffe, Lee Handel, and David Riley, he began thinking about how this dream could become a sustainable reality.

Travelling these new paths together opened a world of possibilities for the Goldberg family. Allan died in December 2014, four months before InMotion opened. His legacy lives on, not only through his name on our building, but also in the system InMotion has developed to help people with Parkinson’s disease feel better every day.

“Allan was a driving force in terms of his work ethic,” said Ben Rossi, InMotion co-founder and chief program officer. “His approach was to get up every morning to do meditation practice, then he would come to me or the boxing coach and we would work with him, and then he’d go home and paint these gorgeous paintings.”

His paintings, many of which are displayed at InMotion, involve motion, movement, and joy. “[Painting] gave him a reason to hope, which is huge. Hope gives you motivation to get up and do. It was a beautiful thing to see,” said Jody.

All of Allan’s family – Terry, her children and grandchildren – are carrying on Allan’s legacy at InMotion by volunteering, serving as board members, and ensuring that InMotion’s commitment to people with PD is sustainable. The family provided the lead gift to InMotion’s Building for the Future campaign in 2020 and the building is named in Allan’s memory.

Parkinson’s disease changed Allan’s life forever. Amid the challenges of living with the disease, he found hope and gratitude. “The most magical thing about dad’s illness is that he said at the end of his life that he wouldn’t have changed a thing,” said Kathy. “He had gratitude for Parkinson’s. Having Parkinson’s gave him a whole new dimension to his personality, to his family. He built houses and buildings but to build [InMotion], gave so much meaning to his life.”