CHICAGO (CBS) – For the first time since disclosing he has Parkinson’s disease, the Reverend Jesse Jackson spoke out about his health struggles.

But as Roseanne Tellez reports, the illness did not stop him from participating in his Thanksgiving tradition.

It’s full speed ahead for 76-year-old Reverend Jesse Jackson, who was helping serve Thanksgiving dinner at Rainbow Push Headquarters on Thursday.

He said he was thankful to be scooping green beans and feeding homeless Chicagoans, but acknowledged it’s not as easy as it used to be, because of his battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

CBS: Tell us a little bit about how that impacts your Thanksgiving this year?

“Another reason to be grateful to God for life, living and to accept challenges,” Jackson said.

Known for his booming voice and boundless energy, these days he’s finding it tough to project and easy to become fatigued.

“You’re talking audibly to yourself, but it’s a drop in the decibel so to speak. You stumble upstairs two or three times, not because the stairs moved, but because you were not picking up your feet high enough for them,” he said.

But Jackson’s focus is on the cause and cure for Parkinson’s.

“We are going to turn the private challenge into public policy concern,” he said.

Jackson said affordable healthcare, especially for veterans and homeless people like these, is key.
But on Thursday, those folks were happy to receive a turkey dinner.

Jackson said he is forming a national commission to help find a cure for Parkinson’s disease.