CHAMPs > Parkinson's CHAMP
May 2012 - Debina
It’s the night of the Walk and I should be sleeping but I must write about this wonderful day while I still feel its powerful grip on me. Actually, it was more like a crowd size group hug!
I’m Debbie, the Deb in “Debina.” I met Katrina, the “ina” in our name, online on December 1st, 2010, having both been diagnosed in January of that same year. We became instant friends!
I heard about the Unity Walk in 2011, but I was afraid to go. I guess I was still adjusting to my diagnosis, and just wasn’t ready. (See my video “Another New Parkinson’s Face” at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmSHdNkrPHg&feature=relmfu). But I quickly regretted it and I started checking the website regularly until finally the date for 2012 was set. This year I was going!
At first, the plan was for me and my husband, Joe to attend and see what it was like. In a matter of a few short weeks, however, it grew to so much more! When I wrote Katrina she wanted desperately to join us, so she texted fourteen friends to pray she would find some way to fly to NJ, all the way from Texas, so we could finally meet and walk as one. As a gift to me, my husband answered that prayer! We were flying my soul sister to NJ so we would finally meet, and together we were going to do the Unity Walk!
By now, I started feeling like maybe we should form a team. And so, Debina’s Movers & Shakers was born and it quickly grew! With an original goal of 10 team members, we became 30. More importantly, the amount of money we raised grew from an original goal of $5000 to an estimated $15,000 raised by the time the 2012 Walk is over!
We chose the Unity Walk in NYC because 100% goes to research, and we knew that would help in our efforts to seek donations and support. But we got that and SO MUCH MORE! The school I work in united like never before to raise money for ME and MY TEAM! 900 students learned what Parkinson’s disease is, and reached out to me in so many ways! One example is a letter I received from a 5th grader calling me an amazing hero. It is moving to know I have reached the heart of a child! Meanwhile, in Texas, Katrina’s church has helped raise awareness during Sunday services by sharing her story with the congregation. Our families and friends have rallied around us, as was witnessed by their participation in the Walk. Katrina’s family walked with us in spirit by wearing their Debina shirts that day miles away in Texas!
Our team successfully raised funds and awareness for Parkinson’s. But Katrina and I received an unexpected bonus, perhaps of even greater value. This experience helped us realize the power of support. As the weeks drew closer, we realized we were feeling stronger from all the love that surrounded us. It was contagious! We started to understand how much we really meant to people – that we were admired and looked up to. For me, this was a treasure. When I first was diagnosed, I feared I would never be proud of a new accomplishment ever again. Yet in the early morning hours of the day after the Walk, I can honestly say I have never felt more proud of anything I have ever done. Our team members actually THANKED us for inviting them to be part of this day. They felt honored to join us because they all recognized they had just witnessed something very special. It was a powerful and emotional experience we won’t soon forget. As Katrina said “It was a magical day!”
If support alone could cure Parkinson’s, we could toss out our medicine and skip down the street! Thanks to everyone who took part in the Walk - “A Cure IS Coming” - and they all are part of that! Until then, Katrina and I will soak up some of that natural Dopamine from the pure joy of being a small part of the Parkinson’s Unity Walk. Thank you to all the volunteers, and a special thanks to the Parkinson’s Unity Walk staff for organizing such a successful event!
Debbie Flamini and Katrina Allison
Team Captains, Debina’s Movers and Shakers