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Archive for the ‘Fundraising’ Category

This Year’s Memory Quilt is Done! And the 2014 Recipient is …

Friday, November 21st, 2014
2014 Parkinson's Unity Walk Quilt

2014 Parkinson’s Unity Walk Quilt

Each year, the Parkinson’s Unity Walk has a drawing for the top 50 team captains. The winner receives a memory quilt comprised of team t-shirts from the current Walk. This year’s winner is David Lee, Team Captain of Team James Lee. Congrats to David Lee and also congratulations to all eligible team captains who represented this year’s Top 50 Teams.

The 2014 Unity Walk had close to 500 teams and this is just a sampling of the creative team t-shirts that are worn proudly on the day of the Walk!

Finished Quilt upclose (2)Finished Quilt upclose (3)








Finished Quilt upclose (4) Finished quilt upclose (5)









The Unity Walk Memory Quilt was first introduced as a prize at the 19th Walk in 2013 and was received by Dan Lamendola of “A RI Team Since 1997.”

2013 Parkinson's Unity Walk Quilt

2013 Parkinson’s Unity Walk Quilt

You too can be in the running to receive the Memory Quilt from the 2015 Parkinson’s Unity Walk. All you need to do is start your team early so that you can get started on your fundraising and rally your family and friends, and be among the top 50 team captains!

For more about the quilt, join the conversation on our Facebook Page.

Stepping It Up Via Fundraisers

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Capture1231While Walk Day is held every April, supporters fundraise all year long to raise dollars for life changing research.  In this newsletter, you’ll learn about the fundraisers that our teams and walkers have proven to be a success.  Check out stories about milestone celebrations, restaurant fundraisers, exercise events, and planning a local walk in your community.

Click here for our newsletter about fundraisers.

Our next edition of Stepping It Up will be about fundraisers — so don’t miss our next email update, sign up for email alerts here.

Creating a Walk in Your Local Community

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

What do Alabama, Tennessee and Indiana all have in common? In each of these states, people living with Parkinson’s disease, have taken it upon themselves to create a local walk in their community to raise funds on behalf of the Unity Walk. These are not institutional undertakings. Similar to the Unity Walk in its earliest days, these are grassroots events, organized by volunteers.


Did you ever leave the Parkinson’s Unity Walk in New York’s Central Park and wonder why you don’t have a Parkinson’s walk in your home town? That’s the question Jeri Boyd asked herself on her way home from the first Unity Walk she attended in 2012. She posed the question to her two friends who had traveled with her to the Walk from Birmingham, AL, while they were still on the plane ride home. Without hesitation, they were on board and the Alabama Parkinson’s Fighters Walk was born. Their walks in 2013 and 2014 and have raised over $13,000 and $17,000 in those  years respectively. 100% of the funds raised by their team have been donated to the Unity Walk and a number of their team mates continue to travel to the Walk in New York each year.


Karen Sampsell, of PK Hope is Alive is one of the Unity Walk’s strongest supporters and she has never stepped foot in Central Park. Karen started a local walk in Oak Ridge, TN as her way of participating in the Unity Walk without ever making the trip to NY. Her support group, The Parkinson’s Group of East Tennessee, sponsors their local walk and all funds raised are donated to the Unity Walk. They selected the Unity Walk as the organization they want to support because 100% of donations fund research and are distributed to seven major Parkinson’s organizations. The 3rd Annual PK Hope is Alive Walk was held in March, 2014 and raised close to $19,000.


Karen Smith was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at the age of 43. She had a vision – to raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease and funds for research – and partnered with several friends to create the Stomp Out Parkinson’s Walk in Evansville, IN. The first walk was held in 2006 and the walk is now in its 9th year.

Donations made by sponsors, family, and friends have resulted in the Evansville walk’s raising over $81,000 for research for Parkinson’s disease since its inception and they’re still going strong. This year’s walk will be held on October 18th. Their walk has consistently placed them among the Unity Walk’s top 50 teams. Karen Smith has since passed the baton to others in her community. Janice McGennis, along with a walk committee, now organizes the event. This cause is deeply personal for Janice as well. Several of her family members live with Parkinson’s disease and this is her way of actively making a difference.

Fundraising walks, regardless of size, are an opportunity for members of the Parkinson’s community to gather, experience a sense of camaraderie, provide resources and information, raise funds for research AND have a good time with one another. If you are thinking of creating a walk in your home town, please get in touch with us.

Incorporating Parkinson’s Exercise Into Fundraisers

Friday, September 5th, 2014

Exercise is healthy for everyone and research has shown that regular exercise can make a significant difference in improving the quality of life for those living with Parkinson’s disease. What’s the best kind of exercise? It’s the exercise you’ll actually do!

A number of our walkers have decided to incorporate exercise into their fundraisers on behalf of the Unity Walk. The range of options are only limited by your interests. Here are just a few examples.

Team Rossi’s Zumbathon

Vanessa MacNeal first participated in the Unity Walk in 2012, shortly after she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Encouraged by the support of her friends and family, she wanted to create a fundraiser in the fall to keep the momentum going after April’s Walk. She enjoyed Zumba and thought it might be a good idea for her fundraiser. All she had to do was ask and the response was a resounding “YES” Her friend who is a Zumba instructor agreed to lead the class, her pastor allowed her to use space in her church at no charge, and a friend lent her a professional grade sound equipment.

Vanessa wondered if anyone would come and was overjoyed when friends, family, neighbors, and friends of friends, all started coming through the door. They brought with them their generosity and their willingness to have fun. The music was pumping and people were smiling. Vanessa was proud to see so many people participating. The event was such a success that Team Rossi’s second annual Zumbathon was held the following fall and is now an annual tradition.

Debina’s Dream’s Volley for a Cure


Put together a supportive and caring staff with a bit of a competitive spirit and you’ve got the makings for Debina’s Dream’s Volley for a Cure. When Debbie Flamini, the school secretary announced that she’d been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and was planning to participate in the Unity Walk, the wheels started turning. What started out as a few people suggesting a Volleyball Game Fundraiser between the 5th and 6th grade staff, quickly grew to something much bigger! When word got out, a committee was formed, and the entire staff (over 100 employees) volunteered to donate food, play volleyball and work the event. The event, held in the gym at the Hartford School in Mt. Laurel, NJ for the past three years, has become an annual tradition.

According to Debbie, “Having a fundraiser is so much more than raising money. It’s also more than raising awareness. It is the most powerful way for anyone with Parkinson’s to feel all the love and support that is likely there for you. All you have to do is ask.”

Team Kohan’s Play for Parkinson’s

Jeff and Denise Kohan are an integral part of their community — they still have school age children and spend much of their time taking their kids from one sports activity to the next. It occurred to them that they could create a fundraiser by partnering with the town’s baseball/softball league. With the support of the Hillsdale’s Recreation Director and President of the Baseball and Softball Association, “Play for Parkinson’s” was created! It included a 3-inning single elimination tournament for younger children and a homerun derby for the older ones. There were sponsor donations, event t-shirts, decorations on the field and lots of food followed by an event at the town swim club. Over 250 children participated!

The Kohans met so many people from their town and heard many stories of those who have been or are affected by Parkinson’s disease. Everyone was so supportive and Team Kohan’s event went a long way to raising awareness as well as raising funds for Parkinson’s research. Denise states that “Hillsdale, NJ is a small town with a big heart.” That may be the case but their level of support is a reflection of their strong connection to the Kohan family.

Restaurant Fundraisers

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Who doesn’t enjoy a good meal? It’s even better when it’s for a worthwhile cause. To paraphrase an old saying – “The way to a man’s heart (in this case a donor’s heart and credit card) is through their stomach.” This is what a number of our walkers have learned as they’ve planned their restaurant fundraisers.

Pasta for Parkinson’s


When Peggy Poole, Team Captain of Team Moon ‘n Stars was not able to attend the Unity Walk in 2013, she decided “to bring the Walk home” to Youngstown, Ohio. She wanted a fundraiser that was fun, easy and would bring people together to support Parkinson’s research. Pasta for Parkinson’s was set in motion. Station Square’s owner was willing to split the ticket price of $15 with her. Half covered the cost of the food and servers, and the other half went to the Unity Walk. Her goal to sell 500 tickets was achieved by identifying 20 people who committed to selling 25 tickets each. The group of supporters that normally would have traveled to NY with Peggy for the Unity Walk became her event committee. Corporate sponsors were solicited. Committee members arranged for a write up in the local paper and a local TV station interviewed Peggy at the restaurant on the day of the event.

The day of the dinner, Peggy met many people who were there because they or a loved one were afflicted with Parkinson’s disease.  Peggy views her biggest success as the hope, support and encouragement that came from this group’s reaching out to one another. Even though Peggy was able to travel to NY for the Walk in 2014, she decided to keep a good thing going and organized the Second Pasta for Parkinson’s in Youngstown.

Pasta for Parkinson’s in Vermont

One good deed leads to another. Robin Szawerda’s sister, Doreen Erasmus lives with Parkinson’s disease and is a longstanding participant in the Unity Walk. Robin wanted to create a fundraiser to support her sister’s team but wasn’t sure what to do. In looking at the CHAMP in Action page on PUW’s website, she noticed the Pasta for Parkinson’s fundraiser that a walker had created in Ohio. Robin lives in Springfield, Vermont and happens to own 56 Main Street, a family restaurant in town. A fundraiser in a restaurant was right up her power alley. Pasta for Parkinson’s had spread to Vermont!

With donations from many of her vendors, most of the food was donated so there were very few expenses associated with the event. Their employees donated their time. The fundraiser became a family reunion and an opportunity to come together in support of Robin’s sister, Doreen. Robin promoted the event on Facebook, and a press release was distributed to local newspapers and radio stations, resulting in multiple write ups about the event in the local media. The fundraiser was a huge success! Not only did it help Team Deen’s Day Trippers to raise funds for the Unity Walk, it also raised awareness of Parkinson’s disease and created good will throughout the community.

Not all restaurant fundraisers need to be started from scratch. Some just require a phone call and getting out your calendar. Check out these fundraisers offered by national chain restaurants that are walkers have participated in.

Applebee’s Dining to Donate Program


Rebecca Gale walks in memory of her Grandpa Jules. She decided to participate in Applebee’s Dining to Donate program. It was as easy as “pick a date.” Applebee’s sent her flyers that she distributed to friends and family. They turned the flyers in on the day of the event and Applebee’s donated 10% of their purchase to the Unity Walk.

As a returning participant to the Unity Walk, Rebecca wanted to expand her team’s donor base and at the same time, increase awareness of Parkinson’s disease. Rebecca posted her fundraiser on her town’s website which allowed her to reach out to her local community and get people involved that she wouldn’t have been able to reach otherwise. One thing Rebecca has learned from her years of raising funds for Parkinson’s research is that “you never know who you’re going to touch with your story!”

Applebee’s Flapjack Fundraiser

Applebee’s also offers a Flapjack Fundraiser at Applebee’s restaurants on weekend mornings when the restaurant is normally closed. This fundraiser appealed to Laura Ciampa because it was so straight forward. Applebee’s provided the food and chefs. Laura provided volunteers to seat guests, clean tables, and serve food. Her family and friends gladly volunteered to work the event. She posted the event in local newspapers and posted flyers in her community. Tickets were sold in advance. The event was so successful that their team held their Second Annual Flapjack Fundraiser at Applebee’s this past spring. They added a silent auction and jewelry party to the event, which resulted in even more funds being raised for research.

Laura’s father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease seven years ago. After feeling helpless in response to seeing his health decline, she decided to participate in the Unity Walk. Creating this annual fundraiser is her way of stepping up her fundraising and fighting back against Parkinson’s disease.

Chili’s Give Back Nights


You don’t have to work at Chili’s to participate in their Give Back Nights but it doesn’t hurt. When Kari Patchak decided that she wanted to create a fundraiser in honor of her grandfather, who had been recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Chili’s was an obvious place for her to hold a fundraiser. Its structure is very similar to Applebee’s Dining to Donate program. The restaurant was packed on the night of Kari’s fundraiser and there was an hour wait to sit in her section so she could wait on you. Kari donated her tips in addition to Chili’s making their donation. What a great way to raise funds!

Check with other local and national chain restaurants in your community to learn what fundraising opportunities are available.

These fundraisers demonstrate the wide range of options that exist when planning a restaurant based fundraiser. Mangia and good luck with your fundraising!