April 2013 - Don's Darlings
Don’s Darlings - A Small Team, From the Smallest State (Since 2005!)
In 2005, the daughters of Don Belt decided to join the Parkinson’s Unity Walk in New York City after hearing about it at an APDA Rhode Island meeting. Our dad, who had always said he would work until he was 75, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when he was 64 and retired a year later. Dad (and Mom) were great role models for us. They were life-long learners with a strong family AND community connection. We grew up giving back and joining the PUW was just one more step in that process.
That first year, we had no idea what we were in for. We had all done local 20-mile walks when we were growing up for a variety of good causes but being in New York City took things to another level. The teams, their spirit, and the enormity of the event all amazed us! The booths, celebrities, signs, swag, and endless line of people; this was something big!
We returned again the following year, this time prepared. We had matching shirts and jackets. Our little team of four was in the top 50 fund raising teams! As we did the year before, we called our parents while we were walking, trying to share with them our experience. They were active in the Parkinson’s community in Rhode Island but being in New York City and seeing all the lives that are affected was something we were not able to adequately share with them in words during that phone call or with our many pictures.
Our Don passed away on March 1, 2007, opening the door for Don’s biggest darling, our mom, to join us. We continually lose her on Margot Zobel Way. She stops at every booth, talks to every vendor, and even though our Don is gone, she is continually gathering information to bring back to the Rhode Island Parkinson’s community.
Don’s Darlings continue to come to New York City for the Unity Walk. We walk to honor all the good times and what he taught us in his 79 years on this earth. We walk to remember all the challenges that came with Parkinson’s. We walk to spend time together as a family. We walk to feel the overwhelming sense of community with other families. We walk in gratitude for all who are working to find a cure. We walk so that our government knows this is an important issue. We walk in hopes of someday meeting one of Dad’s idols, Michael J. Fox, to thank him for the huge positive impact he has had in raising awareness of Parkinson’s disease. We walk to support others still doing battle with this disease, so that they get that sense of hope and knowing that they are not alone. We walk for a cure so that families in the future will only hear stories about what living with Parkinson’s was like.
Team Don’s Darlings