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June 2011 - Danish Parkies

Parkinson’s Unity Walk in New York 2011 and Copenhagen Parkinson’s Unity Walk 2012

In April, three hopeful Danes went to New York where they, together with more than 10,000 others, participated in a large public festival in Central Park – the Parkinson’s Unity Walk.

We joined the 2011 Parkinson's Unity Walk (PUW) in New York to experience the atmosphere of friendship, gain practical experience, and learn about organizing such an event. We obtained contacts before we arrived and met some of the organizers of PUW. Our expectations were met. Along with three others in a working party, supported by the Danish Parkinson Association, we are planning a similar event on May 16 in Copenhagen in 2012. So mark your calendars!

What is Parkinson's Unity Walk (PUW)?
PUW is a grassroots organization that was formed in 1994 by patients, families, support groups and friends, who either had Parkinson's disease or were in any way affected by this. The main purpose of PUW is to provide a forum for fellowship and awareness of the disease, and provide financial support for research to find the cause and cure for Parkinson's disease. Over the past 17 years, the Unity Walk has grown from 200 to over 10,000 participants. Likewise, the funds they’ve raised have increased from $16,000 in 1994 to $1,500,000 in 2010 - almost 8 million. DKK

The Unity Walk, 16 April 2011
We were so happy - imagine joining a festival with 10,000 other people with Parkinson's or relatives / friends. With our beautiful signs and homemade jerseys - Danish Parkies - we created attention from the outset. Did you really come all the way from Denmark to participate? It was great! We also met a team from Norway and started mingling with many others. We were in touch with the organizers and Event Director, Helaine Isaacs, arranged for us to be interviewed by the charismatic television news anchor, Michelle Charlesworth.  Watch the video highlights.

We also met with Ken Aidekman, co-founder of PUW. The meeting took place in the Parkinson's Disease Foundation’s office. We received good points about organizing a Copenhagen Walk on May 16 next year. We are convinced that the Copenhagen PUW should be a social event with messages of unity, fellowship and that together we are strong. Fundraising and donations are second. “Keep it simple” said Ken Aidekman. Helaine and Ken were very helpful.

An annual Unity Walk in Copenhagen
The goal for us is to arrange an annual Copenhagen Unity Walk starting in 2012. We hope to have participants from Scandinavia, Europe and the United States. We would like to arrange - with help from a lot of good forces - a social event where there is a possibility of community, togetherness and unity. We already have an agreement with Copenhagen Municipality, and the first thing we’re facing now is the establishment of a support group. Please join us!

It will also provide both coverage and increased visibility of the Parkinson Association and we will be able to raise money for activities and research. We believe collection potential is high in the long run - if we do it right. Companies and funds will be activated. We believe that the idea behind PUW in the United States can be transferred to Denmark. We estimate that up to 1000 delegates will gather for Copenhagen PUW in a few years - let's start with a few hundred in 2012.

We want to improve the conditions for people with Parkinson’s generally. There is a great need for treatment-oriented, rehabilitative and social initiatives for people with Parkinson’s and their relatives. We must also remember that research indicates that the number of people with Parkinson’s will rise in coming years, which will lead to increased demand on services offered by  the public health field.

Hope to see you in Fælledparken, Copenhagen on May 12, 2012!

Hanne, Camilla and Heino have received grants for travel and stay from Abbott and Danish Parkinson Association. Great thanks.