CHAMPs > Parkinson's CHAMP

March 2017 - Light of Day Foundation

I was a music marketing specialist and artist manager when I found myself facing a much bigger challenge; in December 1996, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. In a way, it was kind of a relief to find out what it was. I had unexplained symptoms - a lack of arm swinging while walking, stiffness in my shoulders, and general rigidity. The disease was pretty new to me then. I had read about it in a magazine a few weeks earlier and the symptoms fit. I had no idea of the true nature of the condition until the doctors at Columbia Presbyterian made the diagnosis.

While continuing with my work in the music industry, I also found time to create new ways to raise money for Parkinson’s research. In 1998 I threw myself a 40th birthday party and asked for donations in support of the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation in lieu of gifts. Everyone had a great time so I threw a bigger party two years later for my 42nd birthday. I named it the “Light of Day” Concert and moved the venue to the legendary Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

I created the Light of Day Foundation in 2004. The name “Light of Day” comes from a Bruce Springsteen song. The organization is dedicated to raising funds through the awesome power of music for research into treatments and a cure as well as support for people living with Parkinson’s, ALS and PSP.

The Light of Day Foundation supports multiple Parkinson’s organizations including the Parkinson’s Unity Walk. Light of Day first participated in the Unity Walk in 2002, when I walked solo. I returned in the ensuing years with a small but growing team. In 2006, I was presented with the Alan Bonander Humanitarian Award at the Unity Walk. Light of Day’s team now has over 50 walkers! It is empowering and inspiring to feel the unity of so many patients, caregivers, friends and family. That’s part of what keeps me coming back to the Walk year after year. We are proud that the Light of Day Foundation has donated over $200,000 to the Unity Walk over this period of time.

The Light of Day Foundation recently completed its 17th year of producing concerts to support the ongoing fight against Parkinson’s disease and other degenerative neurological conditions, specifically ALS and PSP. The concerts were in 14 countries encompassing Europe, Australia, the US and Canada. The annual homecoming shows now called Light of Day Winterfest were very successful and presented about 250 acts over 10 days. The festival raised over $500,000 and had over 12,000 attendees.

The Light of Day Foundation is very excited about some initiatives it is undertaking in 2017. It has  already started its first boxing for Parkinson’s program called “Boxing for Bob” at the Gladiator gym in Forked River, Ocean County, New Jersey. New Jersey’s Monmouth and Ocean Counties are underserved by current programs for Parkinson’s patient support and resources. In the next few months, the Light of Day Foundation will be expanding its “Boxing for Bob” program to Monmouth County. Also, we are also looking into the viability of bringing a voice therapy program into the region. Watch our website for exciting news on these and other programs.

Look forward to walking with you on April 22nd!

Bob Benjamin
Team Captain, Light of Day Foundation