11th Annual Parkinson's Unity Walk Raises Funds for Parkinson's Research While Offering a Day of Community, Education, and Fun
New York, April 16, 2005 - "The crowd keeps growing," exclaimed Michelle Charlesworth, ABC-TV news media anchorwoman and master of ceremonies of the 11th annual Parkinson's Unity Walk, held under sunny skies on Saturday, April 16th, in New York City's Central Park.
The crowd in the annual Parkinson's Unity Walk has been growing since 1994, when Margot Zobel founded the Walk to raise awareness of Parkinson's disease and funds for Parkinson's research. "There were only 200 people walking that day- but we felt we were making history. We raised $16,000, and, as we had pledged, every penny was turned over to research."
Since then, the Unity Walk has built upon the success of each previous year, growing the crowd of participants, Parkinson's awareness, and much-needed funds for research making it the largest annual event for Parkinson's disease. Saturday's crowd, estimated at over 8,500 people, raised thousands of dollars. And, as pledged since the inception of the Walk, every penny raised continues to go directly to Parkinson's research. This is made possible through the Unity Walk's generous corporate sponsors, including its premier sponsors, Boehringer Ingelheim and Pfizer, Mylan Bertek Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and other corporate sponsors including Medtronic, Inc. and Novartis.
Prior to beginning the Walk, the crowd gathered for community, education, and fun while strolling the "Fund the Cure Boulevard." The Boulevard featured booths offering the latest information on Parkinson's from major U.S. foundations and corporate sponsors, and an "Ask the Doctor" area with Parkinson's medical experts answering questions Face painting, balloons, and sign making materials was available for all. Additional excitement grew each time Jim Cantore from The Weather Channel conducted a live interview.
At 12:30, the vast crowd gathered in the stage area as Michelle Charlesworth introduced a panel of speakers. Martin Tuchman, Chairman of the Unity Walk, read from a proclamation from Mayor Michael Bloomberg declaring it Parkinson's Unity Walk Day. Cheri Zaun, a semi-professional golfer and Parkinson's disease patient, gave a moving speech. Muhammad Ali's daughter, Maryum "May May" Ali, dazzled the audience with charm and her stories. Margot Zobel, Founder of the Unity Walk, was greeted with a standing ovation from both the audience and the speakers on stage.
The Honorable Carolyn B. Maloney, Founder and Chair of The Congressional Working Group on Parkinson's Disease, and Joan Samuelson, President and Founder of the Parkinson's Action Network, both gave passionate speeches interrupted several times by applause. The Alan Bonander Humanitarian Award was presented to John Cottingham and Barbara Patterson for their exceptional work done in the Parkinson's community. Michelle Charlesworth then introduced actor Michael J. Fox. The crowd reacted with thunderous applause as he passionately spoke about Parkinson's and the importance of the Unity Walk.
After a raffle drawing and announcement of the top teams, Margot Zobel cut the ribbon to mark the start of the 2005 Unity Walk. Josh Dion sang the National Anthem, and the Walk began.
Beginning approximately 1:00 p.m. at the bandshell in Central Park near 72nd Street, thousands of people, including more than 200 teams, walked the relaxing, wheelchair-accessible, 2-mile circular path under blue skies, sunshine, and gentle breezes. Walkers were greeted at the finish line by a continuation of the morning's festivities and music by Josh Dion.
All funds raised from the Walk are designated for research and will be distributed among the major U.S. Parkinson's disease foundations, including the American Parkinson Disease Association, the National Parkinson Foundation, The Parkinson Alliance, the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, the Parkinson's Institute, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, and the Parkinson's Action Network.
Parkinson's disease is a gradual neurodegenerative disease that affects more than one million Americans. To find out more about Parkinson's disease and the Walk, please contact the Parkinson's Unity Walk (toll free) at 1-866-PUW-WALK (1-866-789-9255) or via Fax: 609-688-0875, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or Web: www.unitywalk.org.
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