Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

PUW Makes it to the Great White Way!

Friday, April 11th, 2014

 

BillboardBlog

(April 5, 2014) – Courtesy of the Wilkins Parkinson’s Foundation, a 30 second video displaying on a 50’ X 100’ digital billboard in Times Square is promoting the Unity Walk. When the PUW staff saw a photo of the space, I think you could have heard our shouts of joy on Broadway – and our office is in central New Jersey! As Event Director for the Walk, I can’t think of a more incredible way to raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease and the Walk, and ultimately, raise more funds for research.

If you remember that Broadway is often referred to as the “Great White Way”, you – like me – are probably of a certain age. For those of you who have no idea what that term means, I could tell you to google it but instead, I’ll take a moment to explain. It comes from a time when the lights on Broadway were WHITE, in contrast to the colorful digital displays that mesmerize us today as we walk in Times Square.

So, if you’re heading north on Broadway near the TKTS booth at the quarter after and quarter to the hour, turn to your right and you’ll see a 30 second video promoting the Unity Walk. If you were there last year, take a moment to see if you can find yourself in the video.

Our sincerest thanks to the generous support of the Wilkins Parkinson’s Foundation!

Look forward to walking with you on the 26th!

Helaine Isaacs

Advocacy Through Parkinson’s Action Network

Monday, February 10th, 2014

 

Joe #4Joe Narciso #2                   I am a 45 year old father of three. I have had Parkinson’s for over a decade and probably started seeing symptoms five or six years before that. Even after being diagnosed, I tried my best to stay in the closet. This was done more out of necessity than vanity. You see, I was, I am an actor.

I made my living as an actor for 16 years, and eight years after diagnosis. As I do not enjoy the same level of fame and celebrity as Michael J. Fox, I feared that once I was “out” my opportunities to work would be severely hindered. So, for the first few years I did very little to promote awareness and even less in terms of advocacy.

My wife, Charlene did a lot of research and we donated to various organizations, but we never went to anything or actively participated in any way. When we first heard of the Unity Walk, we loved the concept. One day, one event, to support all the major Parkinson’s foundations. Once at the Walk, we had a wonderful day. It was the first time I felt like I wasn’t alone in my battle. I wanted to do more. I wanted to participate in a meaningful way.

At the Walk we met representatives from many notable Parkinson’s organizations. All of them do important work. All have noble missions. Awareness. Patient support. Research. But one stood out, to me. They had a unique charter: Advocacy.

The Parkinson’s Action Network. PAN.

PAN’s primary mission since its founding in 1991 has been to provide an informed, organized, and effective voice in public policy issues affecting the search for a cure for Parkinson’s disease. Basically, what this means, is that PAN lobbies on behalf of the Parkinson’s disease community.

PAN allows patients, caregivers, doctors, researchers and others to become advocates. Advocates then descend on Capitol Hill and meet with members of Congress and Senators to secure funding, affect change, and put a face on this insidious disease.

It is quite humbling sitting with a United States Senator and telling them your personal story. There is also an incredible feeling of purpose, power and pride as well. I feel like I am doing something that I would not otherwise have an opportunity to do: speak face to face with the people who truly are decision makers. I know that what we do with PAN is important, tangible and real. And I know we are making a difference.

Today, I serve as an Assistant State Director of New Jersey for PAN. There are monthly tasks for all of the grassroots leaders to accomplish – from contacting our legislators with asks for specific budgetary and policy issues that affect the Parkinson’s community, to attending support groups to help keep them aware of PAN’s advocacy efforts, to staying involved in social media, and keeping up to date on the issues that are important to all of us.

I am proud and honored to be a small part of PAN. To get involved visit www.parkinsonsaction.org.

Joe Narciso
JOE TEAM!

Joe #3PAN Hill Day 2013 with Congressman Robert Andrews

To the Kid in All of Us

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Halloween-PUW

Supporting the Unity Walk from a distance

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

kameronMTLindseyCroppedWEBThere are many supporters of the Parkinson’s Unity Walk who can’t join us in person for the Walk in Central Park but are there with us in spirit. Kameron Allison is one of those individuals. Kameron drove from Texas to Colorado to climb Mt. Lindsey with his friends this past Saturday in honor of his mother, Katrina Allison. Together, Katrina and Debbie Flamini make up the “Debina” of Debina’s Movers & Shakers. Kameron is pictured here with their blue team t-shirt. Reaching the summit takes determination and commitment - the very same qualities our walkers display as they strive to raise funds for a cure.

If you couldn’t join us in New York, let us know where were you as you supported the Walk. We’d love to hear from you!

Helaine Isaacs
PUW Event Director

 

Reel Therapy: Irish Set Dance & Parkinson’s Disease

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Happy St. Paddy’s Day! We think this is the perfect time to share Terrance O’Dwyer’s knowledge of the therapeutic effect of Irish traditional (“Trad” for short) dancing on Parkinson’s disease. One of his goals is to get the word out: Trad “reely” helps!

Helaine Isaacs
PUW Event Director

Reel Therapy: Irish Set Dance & Parkinson’s Disease by Terrance O’Dwyer, Team O’Dwyer
Which is more probable – the chances of winning $50 million in power ball super lotto or, the likelihood of an Irish dancer and Irish composer naming a newly composed Irish jig tune after an Italian neurologist, who just happens to be a member of an Irish traditional music band (Trad for short,) and who has documented the therapeutic effects of Irish set dancing for those of us with Parkinson’s disease (PD)?

Trick question, to be sure, and I am not sure we have an answer. Clearly, the two events are pretty improbable. Nevertheless, two selections from Mary Beth Taylor’s new DVD entitled Sean Nos Jigs for Everyone are named in honor of Italian neurologist, Doctor Daniele Volpe. The story of how this all happened is remarkable.

Dr. Daniele Volpe

Dr. Daniele Volpe

Daniele Volpe is not an ordinary Italian neurologist. In addition to heading up the Parkinson’s Rehabilitation unit at the St. John of God hospital in Venice, he is a musician who loves Trad and who visits Ireland frequently to play in a band.The story began in June of 2010 in Peppers’ Pub, a Trad hot spot located in the tiny village of Feakle (population 126), in County Clare. Pepper’s regularly offers Trad nights where customers can enjoy music, and if so inclined, participate in set dances. One night, just as the band was about to start, the Italian doctor noticed a man with an unsteady but familiar gait enter the pub. “Someone with Parkinson’s,” he remembered thinking.

About 20 minutes later, the band opened the floor for a set dance, and Volpe was surprised to see the man with Parkinson’s among the dancers. What followed was incredible: the man who walked so unsteadily required no assistance to dance. Indeed, the man went through the moves effortlessly, as if he were a different person. Dr. Volpe was quite puzzled, and asked one of the band members about a particular leg movement he noticed. Thus Dr. Volpe learned about the Reel step.

Dr. Volpe made an important observation. For many with Parkinson’s, posterior-anterior advancement of the lower limb during the swing phase of the gait’s cycle is compromised. Yet, the Reel Step enabled a dancer with Parkinson’s to override these impediments.

But why? He surmised the answer may be dance steps associated with the strongly accented upbeat music that characterizes Trad. To test his idea, he ran a small-scale 6-month randomized study involving 24 patients who presented moderate stage Parkinson’s symptoms. While all forms of therapy were beneficial, the Irish set dance group improved more than the control in every measurement category.

Doctor Volpe presented his initial findings in June 2012 to the International Congress of PD and Movement Disorders in Dublin, and, followed his medical summation with the best presentation possible: his patients performed a set of dances before the audience of nearly one thousand.  Talk about pressure!

A report from Ireland prior to conference

A report from Ireland prior to the 2012 International Congress of PD and Movement Disorders in Dublin

One man’s reaction. I first read about the Volpe discoveries in October, 2012 and was overjoyed. I was first diagnosed with PD in 1997. I also love Trad and noticed that when listening to it, I could perform some dexterity tests – such as tapping my thumb with my pointer finger – for significantly longer durations than when without music. Moreover, I found my improvement with dexterity occurred only with Trad, and a few distant relatives, like a Cajun two-step. While I still have not learned to dance, I knew that Doctor Volpe was onto something, and I thought it would be wonderful for someone to name a piece of Trad music after him. The question was, how do I do this?

Enter Martin Tourish, one of Ireland’s leading Trad composers when he is not pursuing his doctoral studies in music at Dublin Institute of Technology. I sent an e-mail to Martin and within a day he wrote back saying that he had just finished composing ten Irish jigs for Mary Beth Taylor’s new DVD entitled, Sean Nos Jigs for Everyone. Eight were not yet titled, and pending Mary Beth’s approval, he would be delighted to name two of the jigs in honor of Doctor Volpe. A day later, he again wrote to say that she enthusiastically agreed.

Next steps. Follow-up testing is now underway with an international randomized trial being conducted by researchers from University of Limerick in Ireland and the University of Melbourne in Australia.

And the tiny village of Feakle will celebrate Doctor Volpe’s discoveries with two major events in August of 2013. As part of the 26th Annual Traditional Music Festival, organizers have invited Dr. Volpe’s dance group of Parkinson’s patients to be special guest performers. And, Doctor Volpe will present his latest findings at a conference on “The Therapeutic Effects of Irish Set Dancing in the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease.”

Finally, for anyone who does not know what set dance is, and for those that love it, here is a video of ‘reel music’ and its effect on happy feet!

Youtube set dancing