CHAMPs > Parkinson's CHAMP
July 2013 - Team Cole
2013 Top Rookie Team!
I remember feeling confused, scared, and powerless as my parents discussed my father’s diagnosis with my sister and me fifteen years ago around the dinner table. At 8 years old, life was simple. If I was good, good things would happen. If I was bad, bad things would happen… a five minute “time out” being right up there with the worst of things. But this wasn't like anything I had dealt with before… this was serious. I just couldn't understand why?
To me, my dad has never been sick. He’s never been anything but the most successful, intelligent, and inspiring dad whose unwavering confidence and support teaches those around him to shoot for the stars because he knows you can reach them. My dad has taught me that life throws us curveballs and we can't always understand why. All we can do is make the most of the life that we are lucky enough to live and do what makes us happy. He has taught me so much in life and yet I often feel powerless to help in the silent battle that he faces every day. That feeling is what led me to the Parkinson’s Unity Walk. Immediately I knew I had to participate. This was a way to be proactive and contribute in the search for a cure for Parkinson's, so that in the future no Dad has to explain what Parkinson's is to his 6 and 8 year old daughters.
This was my first attempt at a large fundraising effort and I had no idea what to expect but regardless, I definitely didn't expect what was to come. My aunt started checking in on my fundraising a few times a month and urged me to shoot for a high goal, so I started at $5,000. I figured maybe I could convince 10 of my close friends in New York to attend the Walk with me. It was scary to put myself behind a cause that meant so much to me because I was already so invested in making it a success. Once I started reaching out to friends and family, I was completely humbled and touched by their responses and support. It really is amazing how many people are eager to help and participate if you just ask. It seemed like every week another one of my friends joined and before I knew it, our team was up to 30 people, had raised over $14,000, and my parents’ flights were booked for NYC.
The day of the Walk finally arrived and I truly didn't know what I was in for. My parents and a couple of friends met me at my apartment to trek up to Central Park early that morning and all I could think about was that I was lugging 30 team t-shirts up to Central Park. I had no idea how many of my team members were going to show up at 8AM (we're only a couple years out of college...). Less than an hour later when I realized I didn't have enough shirts, I couldn't wipe the smile off of my face. I still don't think my friends realize how much their efforts and participation meant to me and my family.
As much as I had read about the Unity Walk and how many people participate every year, I had no idea what it would be like walking alongside my dad, my family, my closest friends, and so many others to whom this cause means equally as much. It was an incredibly touching experience. I am so glad that Team Cole was able to participate and we'll definitely be back again next year!
Team Captain, Team Cole