CHAMPs > Parkinson's CHAMP

April 2014 - Team Ubell-Segall


Without consulting doctors, my brother Earl Ubell diagnosed his own Parkinson’s disease. As a science and health reporter, a familiar face on WCBS-TV for generations, he was keenly aware of the classic symptoms. When his bank returned a check, claiming the signature was not his, he recognized that while the tiny script was surely his own, his handwriting had been made illegible as the result of his condition. Later, toward the end of his career at the CBS news desk, he revealed his illness in a courageous, two-part series about his own struggles with the disease.

It was about then that Earl joined the Parkinson’s Unity Walk Board, contributing his knowledge and energy to help the organization raise funds. They tell me that he was among the most dedicated and resourceful—not out of character. In his long career, he devoted great chunks of time, not only to reporting and newscasting, but volunteering for numerous causes—modern dance, dance notation and advancing science journalism as a profession.

From time to time, Earl asked me to accompany him to Unity Walk Board meetings when the agenda was likely to need help on topics I knew something about. But as his illness made his attendance difficult, Earl asked me to replace him on the Board. It was among my most emotionally fulfilling responsibilities. As his youngest brother—he was 12 years older than I—Earl was ready, from the time I was a boy, to clear a path for me. (He found my first job and then my second, too.)

Serving on the Unity Walk Board and raising money for a cure has been in part my acknowledgment of my debt to him. After a long struggle, Earl died at age 80, in 2007.

Earl is not the only one in my family who has been struck by Parkinson’s disease. Both my step-father, Philip and brother-in-law, Marvin have fallen. Two others—my step-sister, Esty and my sister-in-law, Estelle—have been diagnosed. My heart goes out to everyone in my family. We have all been closely touched by the effects of the disease. My efforts, together with those of family, friends and colleagues everywhere, to help find a cure, have been heartwarming.

One of the great rewards of serving in Earl's place on the Board is to listen to scientists report on research supported by funds collected by walkers each year. Some of the work is so extraordinary--the ingenious ways scientists find to outwit chemical and biological roadblocks that Parkinson's sets up to stymie cures--fill my soul with awe. We learn, not only how difficult the task is, but how some of the best minds are at work to unravel the illness that causes such trouble and pain. The worldwide effort is extraordinary. It moves me to redouble my part of the campaign to find a cure.

In this year’s campaign, many have joined me, not only by contributing their own resources, but by reaching out to others. My brother Seymour, especially, must be singled out. This year, as last, his efforts generated half of what our team raised. I am proud to join him and so many family and friends.
I look forward to walking with you on April 26th in Central Park.

Bob Ubell
PUW Board President