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PK Hope is Alive Walk


Our first PK Hope is Alive Walk on behalf of the Parkinson’s Unity Walk was held on Saturday, April 21, 2012 and was a huge success!  We raised $17,699 and were the 8th highest fundraising team in the country, far exceeding our goals and expectations.

Typically, I don’t talk about myself but….I guess I’m making this an exception.  I’m a nurse by profession and when I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease ten years ago; I never questioned “why me?”  I pretty much knew the answer.  I’d had perfect health up until that time and I truly needed to have greater empathy with others that didn’t enjoy the healthy living that I had.  I knew nothing about Parkinson’s disease.   You can tell that by how I named our group “PK Hope is Alive.”  I thought “PK” was the normal abbreviation for Parkinson’s disease!  My dear husband has been my kind and loving care support since we married in 2000.  In 2008, I had DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation) surgery.

When I was diagnosed, there was not a support group in Oak Ridge; nor one even close by.  With another co-founder; we began our support group.  When I read about the Parkinson’s Unity Walk held in NYC, it became very important to me.  I had not seen or heard about any fundraiser walks in East Tennessee, or any throughout the state.  Now I was excited to get it going with our group.  I love our support group like a second family. Our organization runs off member contributions.   We have purchased audio-visual equipment.  We have e-mail, a webpage and have obtained 501(c)(3) tax exempt non-profit status.  This in itself took a summer’s worth of work by a very dear member, and it enables us to raise money and distribute it where we want it to go.  We now send out a monthly newsletter to our membership and have DVD’s of our meetings.

We want to share with others how we were able to pull together the pieces to accomplish what we did.  For several years I have been the leader of our Parkinson’s support group. We are in the 4th year and have organized two yard sales as fund raisers.  I’d been thinking about stepping up our fundraising and this spring my interest was heightened to really make a difference when I read about the Parkinson’s Unity Walk in NYC. I brought the idea to our support group and I told them that I truly felt that “We can do this!”  Our base membership was approximately 90, and the average monthly meeting attendance was 50-55 members.  So, we discussed the idea of creating a local walk, voted on it and the idea passed.  20 members of our group participated in the walk in one form or another.

Our steps:
1) We completed the Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Department Special Event Application.  They approved the event and we were on the way.  The date was set for April 21st and it was held at Bissell Park in Oak Ridge.

2) We are so fortunate to have such talented people in our group and after we got the go-ahead, we had a couple that agreed to head up our walk. All our officers and other members assisted with various tasks.

3) We met with the Oak Ridge Representative so we would not overlook any permits, licenses, or certificates.  My biggest worry was getting the liability insurance.  I called and talked with Helaine Issacs, Event Director for the Parkinson’s Unity Walk.  She was able to provide our walk with the required certificate of liability insurance. Ever since that first call; I was able to call and contact her about smaller issues. Just imagine - a real person each time on the other end of the line!

4) We had been asking around for anyone who wanted to donate to help cover our expenses and there were several companies that gladly served as sponsors for our first walk.

5) We used quite a bit of the language from the Parkinson’s Unity Walk’s brochure but because ours was a week earlier, we had our graphic design member make the changes and that went to print along with the flyer.

6) We wanted to have our own t-shirts for our 1st walk for the walkers who donated $75 or more and had a local vendor design our t-shirts.

7) Other expenses included a banner, drinks, cookies, water.  We kept it simple.

8) One member in particular, was like a ‘Pit Bull’ on the publicity side.  She used articles to promote the walk and to thank our supporters who donated, walked, publicized our event and sponsored our efforts.   We even got a ‘spot’ on TV letting the public know about our walk.

9) I contacted Kelly Armey, the Outreach Coordinator for NPF at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She in turn sent out information about our walk to the other coordinators of support groups in Tennessee so they would come to our walk or make a donation.

10) We were working along the way with our membership.  Most sent out the flyers with a personal note about their PD and a few used the computer to request donations for our walk. They sent flyers to family, friends and their personal organizations.  It was so important for us to know that ALL donations would be divided among the seven major Parkinson’s organizations. This information, along with a ‘thank-you’ added a personal touch. All donations that were mailed came back to my address and I checked them for team name and accuracy.  These all were forwarded to the Parkinson’s Unity Walk and credited to our team. At our walk, all walkers signed a Registration and Waiver form.  

11) The big day arrived and we had fun!  It was great weather and to see the number of people…it was like nothing else we’d ever experienced. Our volunteer ’security’ team made all feel at ease.

12) Last, but not least, I want to acknowledge our members for their leadership, time, ideas and attention to detail. Without them we could not have been the 8th highest fundraising team in the country!   I wouldn’t want to miss a name……you know who you are!

Thank-you, Thank-you, Thank-you….for OUR SUCCESS!!

Karen Sampsell RN,  
President, PK Hope is Alive
Phone: 865-482-4867

P.S. We already have ideas for 2013!!