CHAMPs > Parkinson's CHAMP

April 2011 - Walker's for Poppy

Our team “Walker’s for Poppy” was formed in honor of my dad, Donald Mackey.  My dad is my hero and he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1994.  We believe he had it many years prior but it was not diagnosed.  He went to doctors in Philadelphia and New Jersey over the years. 

Dad was a GREAT man.  He was a school teacher and administrator for 25 years in the NJ public school system.  After retirement, he got a job at Trump Casinos to support his family of four through the years.  In 1998 he retired from the casino to enjoy time with his family.  He worked his way up from working in the promotions booth and assisting with boxing and other sporting events.  He eventually became a manager of Marketing Systems and achieved the honor of being “Employee of the Month” for his outstanding work. 

This past Christmas Eve, he attended the candlelight service at his church of 50+ years.  The same church in which he was married almost 53 years ago.  The next day, he wasn’t feeling so well and throughout that week he became weaker.  On Sunday 1/2/11 he agreed to go to the hospital and at that time they diagnosed him with pneumonia.  He was able to hang on through his 78th birthday on 1/4/11 but lost his battle the next day.   I can honestly say that 1/5/11 was the worst day of my family’s life. 

Walker’s for Poppy started because I had participated in a National fundraising campaign for another devastating neurological disease and had become unenthusiastic because I wanted more of the money to go to research.  I had become a team captain, volunteer and a “VIP” fundraiser for raising over $1000 in a year.  For all those titles, I continued to receive gift certificates, t-shirts, sweatshirts and even catered dinners for a guest and myself.  It was frustrating to see so much of the money going to extras and not toward find a cure for the disease.  

I then started researching Parkinson’s (only) related programs.  I came across PUW and  it sounded great because 100% of the donations go towards fighting the disease, not giving participants tokens.  Our small (but mighty) team has participated in the walk since 2006.  We were not able to attend the walk in 2010 but this year, we will make the trip to NYC in memory of Don Mackey .   Over the years, our team has raised over $17,000 and hope to raise much more until this disease is gone. 

In 2007, our team held a Valentine’s Sweetheart dance.  We had door prizes, a silent auction and lots of fun.   We even had a table dedicated to information on Parkinson’s.  We also sold beanies with all profits going to fight Parkinson’s.

The “sweethearts” (Don and Wilma Mackey) had a great time.

Over the years, we have raised money through e-mail, US mail, percentage donation dinners at a local chain restaurant, the Valentine’s dance,, and even our beanie baby sales.  I also have a small water jug on my desk at work that my co-workers throw spare change in throughout the year. 

Until someone lives with or cares for someone with a disease such as Parkinson’s, they cannot understand.   They can hear stories, watch videos or read books, but until you live it, it doesn’t hit your heart so strong.  My dad was a fighter and he fought until the end.  He never complained about having Parkinson’s and prayed for a cure to help all patients dealing with this disease.  My dad was a very special man who loved his family and always put others first. 

The team Walker’s For Poppy will be around as long as this disease is around.  We will continue to fight until there is a cure.  We love you daddy!

Heather (Mackey) Johns