About the PUW > Margot Zobel, Founder and Director
The Parkinson's Unity Walk’s founding leader, Margot Zobel, turned over day-to-day activities to her fellow volunteer staff in 1999, but her indefatigable spirit continues to pervade every aspect of the Walk. At age 50, after reluctantly acknowledging that she was experiencing a loss of dexterity that she could not explain, she received the unimaginable diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. She quickly decided to take a proactive approach toward the disease and became determined not to let it get the best of her.
As she immersed herself in fighting the disease, Margot wondered why there seemed to be walks for so many other causes, but not for Parkinson's. When she first posed the idea for a walk to her Parkinson's support group and others, she was greeted by the typical retort of "Parkinson’s patients don’t walk." Surprised, but not discouraged, she decided to start a walk herself, "whether two people or 200" showed up. With the help of few like-minded supporters, the first Walk, called "The Walk Along the Park," took place in 1994, with 200 participants and $16,000 in funds raised.
Drawing on her background in public relations and activism, Margot soon left behind her successful business, "Skyline Creative Business Services," to devote her efforts full-time to the Walk. Margot's two main tenets for the Walk’s past, present and future, are that all money raised must go directly to research and that the Walk should be an umbrella fundraiser from which not one, but several different Parkinson's research organizations can benefit. Reflecting on the progress of the Walk, she notes that while it is heartwarming that people are joining forces to raise money, she is most touched by the "uplifting feeling the Walk creates, as people come together in a positive spirit with the hope of a cure."