Strength in Numbers

Reflection about 2009 PUW Volunteers:  Cheerleaders at the Start/Finish Line
By Patricia Lightner   

There is strength in numbers.  I find that strength every year in Central Park at the Parkinson’s Unity Walk.  I have, as a Parkinson’s patient and a PA State Coordinator for the Parkinson’s Action Network, attended three walks.

It was a sunny, unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon in April.  The trees were just starting to show their leaves after shaking off a winter that, thankfully, was somewhat mild in the Mid-Atlantic.

There are so many volunteers along the walk and I appreciate them all.  Included in my photos from the Unity Walk are some high school volunteers.  The photos I have, as we neared the finish line, bring back memories of how they touched me.

Everyone works so very hard to make the Unity Walk the success it is every year with a record breaking amount of money raised.  And if you are doing volunteer work in Central Park on a beautiful spring day, it can’t get much better than that.

As we approached the finish line, I did not just see volunteers.  The look in their eyes stays with me.  Their exuberance and cheering still reverberate in my mind.  We were being cheered for what we could do.  The focus was on the positives.

Of course, I do not know if any of the volunteers were personally impacted by Parkinson’s disease.  All I know is that they all had a look on their faces that said, “I am a part of this.  I am committed.  This is important; this matters.”

These high school volunteers gave me a sense of community.  There is a large PD community, much larger than people may realize.  For it includes besides PD patients – the PD organizations, friends and family, caregivers and volunteers.

These high school volunteers gave me hope for a future without PD, or at the very least, a disease being constantly beaten down and held at bay with better medical treatments. 

On a global level, they gave me hope for the future.  For they are our future.  They learn in classrooms but also in Central Park.  And these volunteers also teach in Central Park – never give up; a hand up will always be waiting for you.