Larry Hoffheimer Thrives on Energy
“After my first sale, I knew I didn’t want to spend my life selling insurance,” Lawrence Hoffheimer admitted when I asked how he became an attorney. With a fortuitous change of focus, the Cincinnati native would go on to earn the opportunity to become a pivotal force in many of the groundbreaking Federal legislations of the 1960s and later, and to create outreach for persons suffering from age related macular degeneration (AMD) and Parkinson’s disease.
After graduating Miami University of Ohio with a business administration degree, “Larry” had taken a job with an insurance company. The only policy he sold was to his college roommate and that was experience enough to convince him that he wanted to do something more meaningful with his life. Shortly thereafter he was accepted at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, and the trajectory of his life changed radically.
Upon graduation and passing the Bar exam, young Hoffheimer was invited by the U.S. Department of Justice to participate in an Honors Program through its Civil Rights Division. He would spend the next 30 years in Washington, D.C. in the trenches and at the forefront of historical changes in our country.
Early on, he was selected as part of a Justice Department task force that traveled through several southern states investigating the highly discriminatory practice of poll taxes. Upon its passage in 1870, the 15th Amendment to the Constitution had granted former slaves the right to vote, but many poor people, both blacks and whites, could not afford the onerous “poll taxes” that many states levied upon voters. Poll taxes had been under scrutiny since the 1940s, but had here-to-fore failed to garner enough support to bring formal censure.
In 1964, the 24th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution abolishing poll taxes became law, based on the grass-roots work of Hoffheimer and others. The success of this action propelled Larryin the direction of Civil Rights issues. The 1960s and 70s were tumultuous times, encompassing the Vietnam War, Watergate, Black Power Movement, Women’s Equality efforts, American Indian resurgence, Clean Air and Clean Water programs and more. These were heady times, Hoffheimer recalls.
His Washington tenure also included time working as a lobbyist for some large healthcare “players,” and fed his interest in reforming healthcare law. This experience exposed him to the vast inequities in medical research funding at a time when many groundbreaking discoveries were being made, paving the way for major advances in care. Coincidental to this important work, Hoffheimer’s mother was diagnosed with AMD, the major cause of vision loss, threatening more than 11 million people in the U.S. To help raise awareness of this disease and to encourage funding for research, he founded the Macular Degeneration Association in 2004.
Life After the Beltway
When Larry Hoffheimer was ready to call it a day, he left the frenetic atmosphere inside the D.C. Beltway and moved to the civilized serenity of Sarasota, Florida. In 2005, this healthcare advocate was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer.
While his PSA was only 3, it had risen from 1 in just a year – an indication of growing cancer activity. As is the usual experience, his diagnosing urologist strongly encouraged him to have his cancer surgically removed and offered the new DaVinci robotic method. Hoffheimer didn’t buy it. He knew the value of a second opinion. With the world renowned Dattoli Cancer Center just around the corner, he sought a consultation. His conversation with Dr. Richard Sorace was punctuated by this one statement: “Don’t kid yourself – untreated, this cancer will kill you.” He appreciated the frankness of this comment.
Explaining his decision to trust his care to the Dattoli team, Hoffheimer says, “The daily radiation followed by seed implant program appealed to me because it greatly reduced the chances of the negative side effects, often experienced after surgical removal.”
“I liked the fact that the Center had published their success rates, and they were outstanding,” he adds. At his last follow-up appointment in 2018, Hoffheimer was proclaimed completely free of cancer. Thanks to his Dattoli combination therapy treatment, today, 12 years since his diagnosis and treatment, he doesn’t think much about Prostate Cancer.
Responding to Need
Today Larry Hoffheimer has more important business on his mind. He has created another healthcare entity to help people who suffer a cruel disease with little light at the end of the tunnel. In 2004 he founded the Parkinson Research Foundation, and in 2013 opened Parkinson Place in Sarasota.
Named for British physician James Parkinson (1755-1824), Parkinson’s disease is a chronic degenerative disease of the central nervous system that produces progressive movement disorders and changes in cognition and mood. Parkinson Place is designed to help people with Parkinson’s disease get more out of life, and to give patients something wonderful to do each day. Its goal is to get these people out of the recliner and back into life.
Completely unique in its structure, in three years Parkinson Place membership grew to 1,500 patients. Men and women would attend daily sessions at the 9,000-square-foot location, which included everything from gentle yoga to boxing! All programs were designed to improve mobility, strength, balance, flexibility, coordination and speech, the challenges that all Parkinson’s patients encounter. The best part is that there has never been a charge for any of Parkinson Place’s programs! The organization is completely funded by charitable donations.
Pre-COVID-19, each day at Parkinson Place began with an open café for socializing and energizing. As patients and caregivers began to gather, a bubbling, building energy would percolate through the building. Participants looked forward to seeing their friends and escaping the boredom of staying at home. Today, the programs have been converted to virtual formats that are available online to Parkinson patients throughout the country!
Larry Hoffheimer thrives on this energy. It feeds his desire to serve and share. At 82 years old, he shows up for work every day. The golf course and recliner life of many retired executives does not appeal to him. He has to be working and doing something good! His dream is to duplicate “Parkinson Places” throughout the country.