CHAMPs > CHAMP in Action

6th Annual Volley for the Cure


Most people measure a successful fundraiser by the amount of money that gets raised.  And certainly, we want to raise LOTS of money for research!  But the best way to raise LOTS of money is to help people understand WHY we need to raise money for Parkinson's disease.  As I looked out at the audience of approximately 700 students and their families at my recent Volley for the Cure fundraiser, I knew how important it was that they hear the message I had so carefully written on my two type written pages.  This was my moment . . . This was what mattered most.  This is what I said.

Welcome to our 6th annual Volley for a Cure – I'm Debbie Flamini, and I sincerely thank you all for being here and for giving me - HOPE!

But what is hope?  What does hope look like?  And where do we find hope?   For me, Hope is what I see when I look at my granddaughter's beautiful face and see a future teaching her how to do things like riding a bike or knitting a scarf.  Hope is my husband and me hiking in the mountains or strolling along the beach.  Hope is being able to enjoy my family for many more years.  I am one of the lucky ones with Parkinson's disease because I am filled with Hope.  Why am I so hopeful?  YOU!  Each and every one of you.  Every February for the past six years, I find myself in awe of our staff members who come together to make this event happen, and the number of families who come out to make it a success.  We've raised over $25,000 in that time frame, all of which goes directly into research.  And research is where my hope can become a reality.

Eight years ago, my first symptoms of Parkinson's disease slowly developed. This disease has a long list of possible symptoms.  For me, walking has been most troublesome. Without my medicine - 12 pills over the course of each day, I would not have been able to walk across this room tonight without assistance.  The medicine helps my brain send the message to my legs to move, making it possible for me to do many things that most people do without a single thought.

The day I learned I had this disease, was the most difficult life changing moment of my life.  Over the next twelve months I worried about my future, and carried many negative feelings inside me. I didn't like feeling that way.   A year later however, that all changed when my friends at Hartford announced they wanted to support my effort to raise money for my Parkinson's Unity Walk team "Debina's Dream" to help find a cure.   That announcement meant many things to me.  It meant that they too believed a cure was possible and they understood only research can make that happen.  More profoundly, that was when I realized how much people really cared and how generous they can be.  And that is when I found HOPE.  Most of the staff here at the Hartford School have donated food and/or gift basket items, and/or volunteered their precious time to make tonight a reality.  

I've learned a lot from these great people - your teachers.  They helped me figure out a very important life lesson.  I was at a crossroads, with two choices.   I could be a sad, depressed person with Parkinson's, or I could be a happy, optimistic person.  Either way, nothing would change the fact that I was living with Parkinson's.  Watching the genuine joy on their faces as they worked tirelessly to do this wonderful thing for another human being, my friends here at Hartford helped me learn that good can outshine bad when people really care.

Medicine will not work forever.  A cure is not only what I need, but millions worldwide need, so we can look ahead with continued optimism.  Tonight, we have all witnessed what hope looks like, feels like, and what it is!  And you are all the faces of hope.  Thanks so much for coming!

It was not just the fact you could hear a pin drop during my entire speech, or the loud applause when I was done.   I knew my audience heard me by the expressions on their faces, and the comments I heard in the days following the fundraiser.  Some even gave me additional donations to add to our fundraising total of $4,100.  I won't know for sure until next year when I ask for their support once again but if they say yes, I will know with certainty that they understood, and more importantly that they remembered.  That is my secret to a successful fundraiser.  

Debbie Flamini Team Captain
Debina’s Dream