Chris Kennedy says shaking caused by hereditary disorder

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Gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy on Tuesday released a statement acknowledging that he suffers from a hereditary disorder that causes tremors — after the Sun-Times reported on Monday that his hands were shaking during a meet-and-greet with Cook County Democratic leaders.

“I wanted to set the record straight. The shaking is a condition I’ve lived with my whole life called familial tremens. It runs in the family. Doctors don’t know what causes it other than it is hereditary and does not cause impairment — more of a nuisance than a disability. In fact, many of my family members live with it. It doesn’t limit any of us in any way,” Kennedy wrote in a statement on Facebook.

“I don’t talk much about it, not because I’m ashamed of it, but because having dealt with it my whole life, it’s just not that big a deal to me.The fact is millions of people live their lives with far, far great challenges than an occasional handshake.
The fact is improving the health of this state is a whole more important to me than talking about a minor condition. Once in a while, my hand will shake whether I like it or not. But regardless, most of the time, the kind of handshakes you’ll see from me will be on the campaign trail, earning the votes of the people of Illinois who believe in our quest to restore the promise of our state,” he wrote.

Familiar tremor is a subset of essential tremor, which is often mistaken with Parkinson’s disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Symptoms of essential tremor include tremors in the hands first, affecting one hand or both hands. They begin gradually and worsen with movement and can include a “yes-yes” or “no-no” motion of the head. It can also be aggravated by “emotional stress, fatigue, caffeine or temperature extremes,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

Kennedy, the son of Robert F. Kennedy, spoke for just over seven minutes during the Monday event — his hands visibly shaking during some of the speech. He dropped the microphone, which made an audible thump when it hit the floor.

He was among six candidates and potential candidates speaking before the 50 city ward and 30 suburban township committeemen on the Cook County Democratic Central Committee, who plan to slate a candidate in August.


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