CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) — Parkinson’s Across America, a coast-to-coast tour created to spread awareness of Parkinson’s disease, made a stop in Charleston to visit the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Tuesday morning.

South Carolina resident Scott Rider, and his longtime friend Jim Morgan, were both diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 16 years ago.

Now, the pair said they are headed on a five month journey across the United States to speak with professionals who are working to improve research, meet individuals with the disease and educate people about how to find the resources they need.

“We’re two ordinary guys with Parkinson’s Disease trying to make a difference. And I think that’s really what motivates us,” Morgan said.

Parkinson’s disease affects 12,400 people in South Carolina, one million Americans and 10 million people worldwide. It’s the second-most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s, and the fourteenth leading cause of death in the U.S.

Rider and Morgan said they were very impressed by the number of Parkinson’s resources and the wider community of support groups in the area.

“Really we’re here to shout out and say, ‘hey South Carolina, come to MUSC,’ because under the leadership of Dr. Hinson and others, it’s the best quality care in the world that you could receive here locally,” Rider said.

Rider explained the drug commonly prescribed to people with Parkinson’s today is the same drug used 30 years ago, despite a new case of the disease being diagnosed every nine minutes in the U.S. He was inspired by the innovative research happening at MUSC.

“We feel really honored that people recognize that we’re going above and beyond to help the community,” said Vanessa Hinson, MD, Ph.D. Hinson is a professor of neurology and director of the Movement Disorders Program at MUSC.

Hinson said there are seven Parkinson’s experts at MUSC who specialize in the disease and are dedicated to giving patients a “well-rounded experience.”

“Parkinson’s has so many aspects, one single doctor cannot really address them. So we have a team-based approach to Parkinson’s disease,” Hinson said. “What we really like to do is connect with our patients on a personal level.”

She said MUSC is also investing in new clinical trials that aim at stopping the progression of the disease.

“While I have hope and encouragement things are going to get better for people with Parkinson’s, I’m not certain that will happen in my lifetime,” Morgan explained. “So living the best life I can live today is what’s important to me.”

During their visit, Rider and Morgan met with Jay Phillips, a local veteran living with Parkinson’s.

“I was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam, and that probably is why I now have Parkinson’s disease,” Phillips said.

Rider explained he was a highly accomplished track and field athlete, and once competed in the Olympic trials. Through the Parkinson’s Across America project, he hopes his story will bring inspiration to others.

“I once was pretty darn fast, and today, because of Parkinson’s, I’m very slow. If I can use that story to create awareness about the fastest growing neurological disorder in the world, I think that’s making something good out of something that’s kind of bad,” Rider said.

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, the cause of the disease remains largely unknown. Although there is no cure, treatment options vary and include medications and surgery. While Parkinson’s itself is not fatal, disease complications can be serious.

For more information about Parkinson’s Across America, click here.