CAMBRIDGE — A rare disease and ice cream got Julia Gibbs on a plane to Canada from England to surprise her social media friend, Tim Brown, at the Cambridge Centre mall.

“We’ve come to see a gentleman called Tim, who has got PSP — Progressive Supranuclear Palsy,” she said, just minutes before surprising Brown outside of the Dairy Queen in the mall.

It’s a disease that few people have heard of, she admits, but she is working hard to change that.

Gibbs is from Warwickshire in England. She became familiar with the disease years ago when her stepfather was diagnosed and she became his caregiver. When he died from the rare neurodegenerative disease, she decided to start a Facebook discussion group to raise awareness. She said it has since attracted people all over the world living with the disease, as well as their caregivers and even medical professionals.

That’s where she met Tim Brown, who joined the group years ago.

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