10th Annual Parkinson's Unity Walk Raises Awareness and Funds for Parkinson's Research

For Immediate Release
Contact: Trina Stokes
Parkinson’s Unity Walk
1-866-PUW-WALK
(1-866-789-9255) tstokes@unitywalk.org

10th Annual Parkinson's Unity Walk Raises Awareness and Funds for Parkinson's Research

New York, April 24, 2004 — "The crowd keeps growing," exclaimed Michelle Charlesworth, WABC-TV news media anchorwoman and master of ceremonies of the 10th annual Parkinson's Unity Walk, held under sunny skies on Saturday, April 24th, 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 funds for research making it the largest annual event for Parkinson's disease. Saturday's crowd, estimated at over 7,000 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, and other corporate sponsors including Novartis, Bertek Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Medtronic, Inc.

Prior to beginning the walk, the crowd gathered in the stage area as Michelle Charlesworth, charmed the audience and introduced a panel of speakers. Martin Tuchman, Chairman of the Unity Walk, began the program by reading from a proclamation from Mayor Michael Bloomberg declaring it Parkinson’s Unity Walk Day. Evan Stern, President, and Margot Zobel, Founder of the Walk, gave inspiring speeches.

The third annual MIRAPEX Victories Research Award was presented by Mary O’Connell, Product Director at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Denis Keohane, Medical Director at Pfizer Inc, to Dr. Yaakov Stern, Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology and member of the Taub Institute at Columbia University for his accomplishments in Parkinson’s disease non-motor symptomatology research. The Honorable Carolyn B. Maloney, Founder and Chair of The Congressional Working Group on Parkinson’s Disease, and Amy Comstock, Executive Director of the Parkinson's Action Network, both gave passionate speeches interrupted several times by applause.

The Alan Bonander Humanitarian Award was presented to Murray Charters of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, for his work in maintaining a personal website dedicated to "Parkinson's World Awareness" and aptly titled "Parkinson's Resources on the WWWeb." The award was presented by last year's recipients, Nancy Abraham and Brenda Tucker, co-Founders of People Living with Parkinson's, and Kenneth Aidekman, co-Founder of the Unity Walk.

Actor Michael J. Fox made a surprise appearance, addressing the crowd and bringing a thunderous round of applause. Michael, Margot, and Ken Aidekman jointly cut the ribbon to mark the start of the 2004 Unity Walk. The Persuasions sang the National Anthem, and the Walk began.

Beginning at 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 festivities, including live music by the Persuasions, activities for children—such as face painting, balloons, and sign making—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.

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 at 633 Third Avenue, 27th Floor, New York, New York 10017; Phone: (toll free) 1-866-PUW-WALK (1-866-789-9255; Fax: 609-688-0875; E-mail: info@unitywalk.org; Web: www.unitywalk.org.

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