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Archive for the ‘Fundraising’ Category

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

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

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


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

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

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



It Works to Fundraise at Work!

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

I speak with our walkers every day and hear all the creative ways they are going about raising funds for Parkinson’s research. Most of our walkers reach out to their family and friends, download our Facebook app and some create fundraising events. Some have partnered with their places of business to raise funds in support of the Unity Walk. We are grateful for the generosity of so many of these companies. HomeServe USA is involving their employees to support Kristin Legenza, a longstanding participant in the Walk, in her effort to raise funds for PUW. Read Kristin’s guest blog post below.

Does your company provide an opportunity to support your fundraising efforts? Maybe they do and it’s something you haven’t explored up until now. This is the perfect time to look into these options. Are you already raising funds at work? Please let us know. We’d love to hear from you!

Helaine Isaacs
PUW Event Director


This year marks Team Legenza’s 6th year participating in the Parkinson’s Unity Walk. I walk for two reasons – my Grandpa Jack and my Dad. Growing up, my Grandpa had Parkinson’s for many years and it eventually took his life. A few years before he passed, my Dad was diagnosed with this debilitating disease as well. My sisters and I knew we wanted to get involved but just didn’t know how. My sister found the Unity Walk online and we immediately started to participate in the Walk and raise funds to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease. It is an amazing family event that we are extremely lucky to be a part of. Every year we try and do more, and luckily I was able to fundraise through work.

I work for a company in Norwalk, CT called HomeServe USA. We often participate in what the office calls “Jeans Passes.” If you donate to the charity chosen by HR, you can wear jeans every day to the office for a certain amount of time. A few months ago, employees were invited to make a presentation to the executives about the charity of our choice and reasons why that charity should selected for this kind of fundraising opportunity. The executives then chose three charities that our employees would contribute to this year. Pushing out of my comfort zone, I took a stand with a colleague of mine and told my peers why the Unity Walk is important to me and what a great experience it is. I spoke about an event where people come together to raise awareness and funds to cure a disease that impacts so many lives and families. I shared my experience of being at the Walk, and what it’s like to come together with a group of people who feel what I feel and who support one another as we stand up and fight.

Sixteen charities were presented and the Unity Walk was chosen as one of the top three. Donations are pouring in and I could not be more grateful to work for a company that supports me and the challenges I face outside of work. Not only are the people I work with donating to PUW, but my company, HomeServe USA, matches every donation dollar for dollar. In addition, HomeServe USA donated $1,000 to each charity that was presented as part of the contest.

People say that anyone can make a difference. After this experience I believe this to be true. Due to my company and my colleague’s generosity, I am part of an effort that is significantly increasing the amount of money raised for research and I couldn’t be more excited! I stepped outside of my comfort zone and shared with my colleagues a personal part of my life that I had previously kept very private. As hard as it was to do, I would do it all over again because I was able to make a difference. If we are willing to ask, people are eager to help do their part to find a cure for a disease that affects so many lives immensely, including my own.

Step out of your comfort zone, remind people of not only the hardships of the disease, but the benefits that come from gathering as a community at the Unity Walk. Fundraise any chance you get. I did and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. We each have the capacity to make a difference.

Kristin Legenza
Team Captain, Team Legenza

Jewelry for a Cure

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

There are an endless number of ways to raise funds for Parkinson’s research. Recently, several of our walkers have decided that jewelry is the way to go! Here are a few examples of how our walkers are accessorizing to raise funds for PUW.

PD Charity Charms

PD Charity Charms
Meaghan Griffith participates in the Unity Walk in memory of her grandfather. She had an idea to make a bracelet with a PD charm and “PD Charity Charms” is now a reality. To purchase a bracelet or learn more, visit www.pdcharitycharms.com. Bracelets are priced at $25 for one; $45 for two; and $200 for a ten pack. There were many steps in between the creation of her idea and it becoming a reality. Meaghan had to come up with the design, figure out how to have the bracelets manufactured, and design the website – no easy task while attending college and working full-time – but she persevered because she is committed to the cause.

Bling for the Cure

Doreen Erasmus wanted to do something fun to kick start Deen’s Day Tripper’s fundraising for the 2015 Unity Walk. People have house parties for clothes and housewares. Why not jewelry? A friend of hers is a Silpada Jewelry representative and together they planned a “Bling for Parkinson’s” fundraiser. Doreen’s dining room was transformed into a jewelry store for one evening in February. Everyone had a blast and it boosted her team’s fundraising efforts.

ALEX AND ANI Fundraiser

Alex and Ani Fundraiser
Who hasn’t seen the wide array of bracelets available at ALEX AND ANI? Instead of hosting a jewelry party in her home, Kristen Conroy arranged for a fundraiser at the Alex and Ani store in Ridgewood, NJ on May 19th. ALEX AND ANI will donate 15% of all in-store orders placed during the event! Supporters can also shop or call in their order to the Ridgewood store one week before the event and let them know your purchase should be credited to the Parkinson’s Unity Walk. Alex and Ani’s donation will be credited to Conroy’s Conquer’s fundraising efforts. Click here for more information.

We encourage you to be creative with your fundraising! Get in touch with your “inner fundraiser” and put the FUN in “FUNdraising.”

A Message From Elizabeth Gold, Team Captain of Team Duke, 2014 PUW Top Rookie Team

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

How Team Duke’s Unity Walk experience unfolded resulting in them becoming our 2014 Top Rookie Team

photo 2

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.

Elizabeth Gold
Team Captain, Team Duke