Inspired by a father and a son, the HollyRod Foundation was formed in 1997 by actress, Holly Robinson Peete and her husband former NFL quarterback, Rodney Peete in honor of Holly’s father, Matthew T. Robinson Jr, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 45. An actor, writer and television producer, Robinson was the first actor to portray the character of Gordon on Sesame Street. Matthew transitioned in 2002.
The founding principal of the HollyRod Foundation Parkinson’s Disease. Our original efforts were advocacy and compassionate care for families caring for a loved one living with Parkinson’s Disease. Two years prior to Matthew’s passing, Holly’s son, RJ, received an autism diagnosis at the age of three. RJ’s twin sister, Ryan, did not receive an autism diagnosis. It was what Holly and Rodney refer to as the “never” day. It was the day that their doctor gave them a list of all of the things that RJ would never be able to do. After RJ’s diagnosis, the foundation’s mission was expanded to include autism.