November 2011 - Team Mopsy
My mother was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1992 when my brother and I were still in high school. She was 48 years old. For many years after her diagnosis, I was in denial – and because her symptoms were slow to reveal themselves, I was able to get away with it. I went through two more years of high school and four years of college without telling anyone, even my closest friends. I barely talked about it with my mom and rarely asked her how she was feeling.
But after a while (too long), I realized that me ignoring my mother’s disease was not fair to her, or supportive of her. I was in law school in Philadelphia, living six hours from home, so I lacked the ability to physically help her in ways that could have been helpful: I couldn’t go to her doctor’s appointments with her or help her run errands, like her friends were able to do. I started thinking that there had to be something I could do, even from afar. In 2004, after doing a little research, I found out about the Parkinson’s Unity Walk in New York City. I was drawn to the Unity Walk because of its commitment to finding a cure through research, a cause that is near and dear to my mother’s heart. The Unity Walk was the perfect way for me to get involved, no matter how far from my mother I lived. It was also a wonderful way for me to tell my friends about my mother's fight with the disease and shed light on a subject many of them knew little about. I signed up and invited a few friends to join me. Because my mom lives in Maine, I didn’t expect her to make the long trip – but she did, along with a crew of best friends that she has known for years. Team Mopsy (my mother’s nickname) was born.
The first year, I sent letters in the mail and e-mails, but had no sense of how much money I might raise. I set Team Mopsy’s target at $2,500. We raised almost $10,000. After a few years, Team Mopsy broke into the Top 25 Teams and has remained in the Top 25 for the last five years. In 2011, Team Mopsy had its biggest year yet, raising over $14,000 and being ranked as the 14th highest fundraising team! In all, Team Mopsy has raised over $80,000 since 2004, an amazing accomplishment for a small team relying only on individual donations. I am consistently amazed and humbled that the same people who supported Team Mopsy eight years ago come back year after year to support our efforts. I am so proud of the money that we have raised for the effort of finding a cure for Parkinson’s.
My mom always commends me for my fundraising efforts and tells me how proud she is of me. But what I always want her to remember is that the generous donations Team Mopsy receives year after year from friends and family around the country are not because of me – it’s all because of her. Team Mopsy’s success is a true testament to how beloved my mother is to so many people and to how much we are all proud of her as she bravely lives with this disease – for almost twenty years now.
I recently moved from Philadelphia to Boston, in part to live closer to my mom. I was on the board of a great local organization in Philly, The Parkinson Council, and had to resign when I moved. As one of the other board members (who is living with the disease himself) aptly and touchingly put it when I told him I was moving to be closer to my mom, “There is nothing more significant to a Parkinsonian than a devoted daughter.” I couldn't have put it better myself.
I love you, Mom. Go Team Mopsy!