How Team Duke’s Unity Walk experience unfolded resulting in them becoming our 2014 Top Rookie Team
I discovered the 2014 Unity Walk while I was on maternity leave late last winter trying to juggle the high of having a healthy, new little boy and the low of watching my Dad in the throes of his fight with Parkinson’s. I was bouncing along that emotional spectrum one night researching ways to support both of my parents when I came across the website for the Unity Walk. I registered in the wee hours of the morning, created Team Duke in honor of my dad, and signed up to walk. It was a snap decision and I’m so glad that I did it.
I wasn’t sure what to expect since I had never directly solicited money through a walk or run. And I also wasn’t sure what to expect by so publicly acknowledging my dad’s illness. He was a private man, and while he certainly didn’t endeavor to hide his disease, he was the type of to deal with adversity privately rather than communally. I am cut from the same cloth, so it took me several days of writing and rewriting my solicitation email before I finally sent it off to my family and friends.
I set a goal of $5,000 which seemed too high, but why not? And then people started responding and I reached my $5,000 goal within two weeks. It was amazing and inspiring to me. I think our family and friends were relieved to be able to support my dad – even just financially – because they were feeling as helpless as I was. And the donations all arrived with messages of support. I loved sharing them with my parents, and it made my dad feel like he wasn’t in this alone. I quickly increased my goal to $7,500 and then $10,000 as the donations continued to come in. A few weeks before the event, I was feeling comfortable and confident enough to use the Walk’s social media tools like the Facebook app. I happily was surprised to hear from old acquaintances and friends on Facebook who offered their support and donated to Team Duke as well. I am grateful and thankful that Team Duke ended up raising the most money of any rookie team. Selfishly it is a source of pride since this was so personal, but the truth is that the funds made a tangible difference last year in helping to raise money for research. This is a terrible disease and we need to find a cure.
As much as I was dreading the fundraising aspect of the Walk, it turned out to be an uplifting experience for me and my family. It is easy to ask for money for Parkinson’s because I’ve had a front row seat to its impact on a loved one. And because 100% of the proceeds raised by the Unity Walk go to research, it is an even easier ask. You just have to send that first email!
The Unity Walk is a joyous and vibrant event. And everyone who attends understands immediately that this is a community of patients and caretakers, family and friends who are all in this together. It is such an uplifting morning and you can’t help but leave Central Park feeling like the glass is half full. Full of life and living.
Good luck to everyone. Team Duke looks forward to the honor of leading off this year’s walk on April 25th.
Team Captain, Team Duke