“My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

Who could forget this classic quote from The Princess Bride? A man grieving the loss of his father devotes his life to pursuing revenge against the person responsible. The wish for revenge after so significant a loss is a natural human impulse that can be found in films and literature for centuries—from Aeschylus to Shakespeare to Disney. The sad fact is, most of us are familiar with the pain of losing a loved one. But what can we do with our desire for retribution when the enemy is an illness or disease?

For one donor couple, the answer is clear: Get revenge on the disease through medical research.

We call it revenge research because my father died of Parkinson’s. My father suffered for such a long period of time. I told the [organization], “This disease tortured my father; I want to get even with the illness. Revenge research, that’s what this is all about.” I want to find a purpose in defeat. My father’s illness gave me a purpose. If one of [the researchers] comes back with some form of breakthrough, we had a big win.

Like Inigo Montoya, this couple understands that their revenge against Parkinson’s disease will take time. They are willing to wait, investing money and energy in their hope that one day, their enemy will be defeated.

A cure is a lot to ask for. I’d like to see us advance medical research to a place where it’ll make a difference at some point. The worst we’ll do is eliminate some things and make the trail narrower for whoever comes behind us. We’ll succeed at some level just by eliminating issues that needed to be explored until we find the one, the magic bullet.

Research informs us that there are many reasons to support causes that are important to donors. The most meaningful philanthropy is based on life experiences, and these experiences may be positive or negative. In the case of these donors and many others like them, doing something good is a way to counteract the pain of loss. One day, the medical research being conducted now will achieve success. And then?

We have found that giving back in even a small way makes you feel better. Helping someone else turns on the light. If we’re lucky enough to cure Parkinson’s, we’ll move onto something else. We won’t stop. It’s not that we’ll go sit on the beach and say we’re done; we’ll find the next thing that has a purpose.

To learn more about an interactive session designed for researchers and their development partners, click the link below.

Clinician Engagement