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January 2013 - Marilyn Lamendola - Remembering Our Own

Marilyn Lamendola (fourth from the right in photo) died peacefully at home with her family on December 13, 2012. With her diagnosis of Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease in 1994, Marilyn became a tireless advocate for those living with Parkinson’s Disease. She was the founding captain of “Team Rhode Island” and for the past several years has attended the Unity Walk with her family as “A Walking Team from Rhode Island Since 1997.”

As a life-long resident of Rhode Island, she was the first person to arrange an out-of-state bus trip to attend the Walk, back when it had merely 500 participants. This began Marilyn’s close friendship with Margot Zobel, the Walk’s founder, as they worked towards the shared objective of unifying the Parkinson’s community across the country in an effort to build awareness and to find a cure.

In recognition of Marilyn’s contributions to the Parkinson’s community, she was selected as the recipient of the Alan Bonander Humanitarian Award in 1998. Marilyn’s team has raised close to $65,000 since 2002 to fund research. This is as far back as our records go so this amount does not reflect money raised prior to 2002. She always provided the Walk staff with feedback about her experience and challenged us to think outside the box. Marilyn was instrumental in growing Rhode Island’s state-wide APDA chapter into a vibrant support organization with its own Walk-a-Thon.

Marilyn is survived by Richard, her husband of 39 years, and her eight children, all of whom have attended the Walk throughout the years. Recently, she was thrilled to enjoy her days in Central Park with her granddaughters Molly and Lucy. Her daughter Linda has run the Los Angeles Marathon for the past three years in support of Team Parkinson. Marilyn was continually supported by her parents, her sister Kathy and her extended family.

Sixteen years ago, finding this community to join meant the world to Marilyn. She forged invaluable friendships that gave strength and hope to herself, her family and everyone she knew. Her family will forever cherish the memories created in Central Park and their participation will continue in support of her advocacy for Parkinson’s awareness.  

Marilyn said that when you can start something from nothing, be a part of it, and then step away to watch it grow – that is success. Today, the Walk continues to grow and offers support to many more families like Marilyn’s. We thank her for her dedication, endurance and enthusiasm to further Parkinson’s Awareness and we will remember Marilyn as we prepare to join together in April for the 19th Annual Parkinson’s Unity Walk.  

For more information, visit the team page of A RI Team since 1997.

We will miss her dearly.

The Parkinson’s Unity Walk Staff