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Peaches and Parkinson’s – Working Together to Find a Cure

June 21st, 2016 by Guest Blogger

Ontelaunee Orchards is among a growing list of companies that are actively supporting their employees in their effort to raise funds on behalf of the Unity Walk. Doug Nemeth is their Executive Vice President. He is living with Parkinson’s disease and is a longstanding participant in the Unity Walk. Together, they’ve created “Peaches for Parkinson’s.” Read below for more details about their fundraiser.

This event highlights that you can raise funds for the Unity Walk all year round and those efforts don’t need to be limited to the months of February through April.

We are grateful to Doug, Stacey and the owners of Ontelaunee Orchards for their support and wish them every success with their fundraiser. If you’re in their area on August 13th, please make sure to stop by.

Helaine Isaacs
PUW Event Director

Parkinsons ad
I mentioned in passing to Stacey Mullen that I would love to have a fundraiser of some kind in the orchard for the Parkinson’s Unity Walk but thought it might be a challenge with our time limitations at work.  At the time, I don’t recall Stacey reacting at all but she heard me all right. Over the winter, she was working on preparations for the 2016 season. She presented her plans for a walk at our orchards to the owner of the company and he was on board! Once we had his support, we started getting excited about the possibilities. I have spent 37 years working for Ontelaunee Orchards and to be part of an event like this is exciting and humbling. I am so grateful. After eleven years of living with Parkinson’s disease, work is becoming more challenging every day. Happenings like this fill me with optimism and strength. The first blossoms opened for the 2016 peach crop in late March. I believe they intend to do their part and are anxious to start growing. Peaches and Parkinson’s has a ring to it. Don’t you agree?

Doug Nemeth
Team Member, Team “Livin’ La Levodopa”

Doug Nemeth was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease eleven years ago and he’s been a longstanding member of the Parkinson’s Unity Walk’s Team “Livin’ La Levodopa.” Doug has been employed as Executive Vice President at Ontelaunee Orchards in Berks County, Pennsylvania for over 38 years. Doug’s fundraising on behalf of the Unity Walk has mostly involved his reaching out to family and friends. In conversation a few months ago, he mentioned that he would like to create a local fundraiser in our community. That got me thinking – why not create a fundraiser at our orchard? I approached the owner of the orchard and he was immediately on board. This was the beginning of Peaches and Parkinson’s!

Ontelaunee Orchards is one of the biggest and oldest orchards in Berks County, Pennsylvania.  In the early 1920’s the orchard was comprised of approximately 2,000 acres growing peaches, apples, and cherries.  Today, the orchard is slightly smaller but growing a variety of fruits for “Pick Your Own”; apples, peaches, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and pumpkins.  Today it’s a great place to come with the family and make memories while picking fresh local fruit.  We are located in Leesport, Pennsylvania and the scenery and views while picking is truly majestic!

During August, aka “prime peach time”, Ontelaunee Orchards holds its annual Peach Festival where we highlight our PF 007 Peaches.  These peaches are truly something! They are the biggest peaches you’ll ever see! Every year we have the world’s largest peach, but unfortunately we haven’t been able to successfully document it.  The peaches are about the size of a softball, some larger, some smaller.

This year Ontelaunee Orchards’ Peach Festival has decided to combine forces with the Parkinson’s Unity Walk.  On Saturday, August 13th, starting at 10:00 am, the Orchard will host a Country Road Walk through the orchards.  Participants in the walk will get a T-shirt, and a pre-paid bag to pick peaches along with their donation.  After the walk, let the festivities begin! Stay for some BBQ, shop at the local craft vendors and listen to some live music! We’ve also approached local companies in our community and several have already signed on to serve as a sponsor of this fundraising event.

Doug believes that resilience is one of the factors that contribute to living well with the disease and he continues to capably and confidently run our company. We are grateful for this opportunity to support Doug in his efforts to raise funds for Parkinson’s research.

Please join us on August 13th, to help find a cure for Parkinson’s with peaches!

Stacey Mullen
Retail Operations Manager
Ontelaunee Orchards

 

Pearl by May May Ali

June 10th, 2016 by Parkinson's Unity Walk Team

As we mourn the passing of Muhammad Ali, we stand with the entire Parkinson’s community in sending our love and prayers to support our dear friend May May and the entire Ali family.

A recent Los Angeles Times article described Maryum “May May” Ali as the eldest daughter of Muhammad Ali, a standup comedian, a rapper, and is currently executive director of a nonprofit that focuses on gang prevention and youth development.  To the Parkinson’s family, May May is also known as our Official Unity Walk Poet.  Her poems are a Walk tradition.

“Pearl” is a poem that is unique because it is about her father’s determination while living with Parkinson’s disease for over three decades.

Pearl
By Maryum Ali

What a hero he is to me but more so heroic in the face of adversity.
Lightning speed within a square ring turned into slow imbalances while praying for nights like yesteryear spotlights on
The Ali Shuffle.

The rope-a-dope fight is now a rope-a-dopamine battle.
Parkinson’s – akin to traversing upstream in a canoe with a leaking hole without a paddle.
Yes, it is a struggle, but what I admire about my father is his determination to not let symptoms defeat his soul and refusing Parkinson’s to retreat him into darkness taking its toll.
Throughout diseased phases, he maintained divine praises to his Creator,
and I witnessed in the early stages his ability to still raise his once powerful fist despite recurrent shaking.
That shaking.

Reminds me of the famous Cassius Clay quote after Sonny Liston choked, “I shook up the world!”
Yes, Dad, you are a pearl imbedded in the oyster of life, protected by your faith and elevated through social strife.
Standing up for the right to be the man you manifested.
Politically unrested, you tested all waters until the tides waved your way to whisper in your ear,
“You know God’s humanity.”

Now you stand with a walker. No vanity. Now a softer talker if you talk at all.
But what remains the same is your spiritual stance, a presence remaining tall.
I am so inspired by your choice to live your life to the fullest it can be
with over 30 years of PD riding heavily on your back.
From your earliest days to your latest, you haven’t wavered your love of self.
Your eyes still sparkling like the day you proclaimed,
“I Am The Greatest!”

“Pearl” was read by May May at the 2015 Parkinson’s Unity Walk and at the 2016 Kick-Off Reception.

April Showers Bring May Flowers – Team Impax Got a Little Wet at the Unity Walk but It Was Worth It!

May 25th, 2016 by Guest Blogger

The Parkinson’s Unity Walk is grateful to all of our sponsors who generously support the Walk. It is their sponsorship dollars that allow us to keep our commitment that 100% of every dollar raised by our walkers supports Parkinson’s research.

Impax is one of the corporate sponsors of the 2016 Unity Walk and they have taken their sponsorship model to new heights by creating a successful fundraising team that involved their employees, in addition to serving as the sponsor of the Team Photo booth at the Walk. Read about their “secret sauce” – all the ways they were proactive in encouraging their employees to get involved and providing fun incentives to make this happen. Their model is a testament to their corporate culture and their senior leadership teams’ commitment to this cause. We hope that other sponsors look to this as a model they may incorporate into their sponsorship of the Walk.

Helaine Isaacs
PUW Event Director

PUW-16-walk_GLO5346Team Impax
It may have rained in Central Park the day of the PUW, but that did not dampen the spirits of Team Impax. Impax is a specialty pharmaceutical company that is committed to making a difference in the communities where we live and work. Our senior leadership believes it is important to invest in responsible corporate citizenship and champion causes that align with business objectives.

Our company sponsored the PUW Team Photo Booth, one of the most popular attractions at the Walk.  Impax employees, family, and friends also did a phenomenal fundraising job, with 52 registered walkers raising a total of $12,508 for the cause! We did this a number of ways:

1. To launch our fundraising effort and get employees excited about participating, we hosted a kick off rally. With the help of the PUW staff, a Parkinson’s patient spoke to our employees about her diagnosis and what it is like to live with Parkinson’s disease. Our senior leadership also presented at the rally to reaffirm the company’s commitment. We also provided refreshments and prize drawings for attendees.

2.  An Event Committee of cross-functional team members was formed.  These committee members are volunteers who are passionate about doing for others and served as champions of the event throughout the organization.  Part of our “secret sauce” entailed:

o Having a team captain who is persistent and passionate about the cause and is senior enough in the organization to be able to work with the leadership team;

o Partnering with our Corporate Communications group to promote activities, provide regular fundraising updates, and engage employees;

o Forming an Executive Steering Committee to ensure we were complying with all corporate policies.  Their participation also served as an endorsement of the importance of the event;

o Setting a corporate financial goal is essential. It provides a valuable roadmap for knowing where you want to go and keeps everyone rowing in the same direction; and

o Having a CEO who supported our fundraising efforts by posing a challenge to employees that he would personally contribute $5,000 if we met our corporate goal and an additional $2,500 if we met our stretch goal. (The PUW is one of three Parkinson’s walks our Company is supporting so this challenge encompassed all three organizations).  So far, we have exceeded our corporate goal.

3. Establishing a budget to provide Team T-shirts and to offer fundraising incentives and drawings, including logo gear such as umbrellas for the event.

4.  Recognizing star fundraisers or those who have gone above and beyond in helping the cause.

5. Making the event day a family event – including offering roundtrip transportation and bringing team gear and snacks to the event.

6.  Sending out thank you letters to all of those that supported the event.

We are so proud of Team Impax.  Their efforts exemplify our core values and commitment to the communities where we live and work.

Robin Bartlett
Team Captain, Team Impax
Team Impax bus shot

Team Impax check presentation to PUW

 

 

Calling All Team T-shirts!

May 9th, 2016 by Helaine Isaacs, Event Director

Finished quilt outside

Many of our teams proudly wore their team t-shirts at the Unity Walk in April, displaying their bright colors, clever team names and creative designs. Do you see your 2015 team t-shirt in the photo above? The top 50 team captains will be entered into a raffle drawing to win a PUW memory quilt made up of approximately 50 team t-shirts from the 2016 Unity Walk. If you didn’t submit your team t-shirt at the Team Photo booth at the Walk, there’s still time to have your team t-shirt included in the 2016 PUW memory quilt. Please mail it to the Unity Walk office at PO Box 275, Kingston, NJ 08528. The Unity Walk reserves the right to select which t-shirts to include in the quilt.

Having your team t-shirt be a part of this quilt symbolizes the part you play in the Unity Walk. We couldn’t create this quilt without you!

 

Winner of 2016 PUW Your Favorite Walk Moment Contest Announced

May 5th, 2016 by Parkinson's Unity Walk Team

Congratulations to Shannon Williams, team captain of Team Old Skool for winning the social media contest on Walk Day by submitting her photo on Instagram and tagging it with #puw2016 @unitywalk. The prize is a hooded PUW sweatshirt. A little rain didn’t dampen the spirits of Team Old Skool who walk in honor of Shannon’s dad.

A little rain can’t stop us.. #weluvbigjoe #puw2016

A photo posted by Shannon Marie (@roses099) on

We are grateful to Shannon and all our walkers who raised awareness of the Unity Walk and PD by posting their Walk photos and favorite moments.

Winner from 2015
Winner from 2014