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Archive for the ‘Fundraising’ Category

Got Parkinson’s? What you CAN do!

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013
Pam Quinn, Mike Achin and Renee Leverrier  at APDA's New England Biennial Conference

Pam Quinn, Mike Achin and Renee LeVerrier at APDA’s New England Regional Biennial Parkinson’s Conference

Recently my wife and I were asked to give a motivational talk at the American Parkinson’s Disease Association’s New England Regional Biennial Parkinson’s conference in Sturbridge, MA. The topic was, “Got Parkinson’s? What you CAN do.” I introduced a video clip we made that played to the song, “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.” This was my high school graduation song. I don’t think I really ever listened to the words then. I just wanted my diploma and to start living my life. Today it means so much more. To understand how we got to this point, let’s go back in time a few years.It was the fall of 2009 and I was stunned by my diagnosis of “Parkinson’s disease (PD).” I do not cry very often but that day as we drove home, the tears were running down my cheeks. Are you kidding me!?? I was just 51 years old and I still had a son in college. This surely could not be happening. The truth was, my wife had already diagnosed me. She knew months before my official diagnosis. I did not want to hear it. I lived in denial. So, what if my left hand would not swing while walking? So, what if my left leg dragged a little? So, what if I was losing my balance? So, what if cutting up food and writing was getting harder and harder? It was just age catching up with me. Right??

For me the next few months were horrible. I was scared, angry, and depressed almost every day. I was living my life as if my glass was half empty. Now, let’s fast forward a little. Eventually, I snapped out of my funk and started learning about PD. My wife, through her research, found a walk in NYC coming up called the Parkinson’s Unity Walk. Her hope was that the five of us (we have 3 children, Ben, Danielle, and Zach) would travel to the Walk and learn together as a family what PD was all about. It took a little bit of nudging to get me to go to NYC, but once I said yes, my life was never the same again. Have I mentioned yet how awesome my family is!? Over 50 others joined our family of five in NYC for that first Walk. Our family and friends wanted to support us. They wanted to let us know that we were not in this alone. From that first Unity Walk in 2010, all 50+ in our now signature lime green shirts, Team DominACHIN was born. We were going to fight to help find a cure. To date, Team DominACHIN has raised almost $100,000 for Parkinson’s research.

One of the best things that happened was one day I decided to start living my life as if my glass was half full. I needed to remember that I had a lot of living to do – people to meet, places to go, super bowls to witness, and even a granddaughter to meet (in just a few short weeks!!).

So, now you know why we were invited to speak at the conference. Our message is simple. If we all do some fundraising and talk about PD, we will create a boat load of money for research as well as an avalanche of information to educate the public. There is a saying; “If it is to be, it is up to me.” We all need to find our niche and go for it. Personally, we have found that we can be pretty creative and make almost any activity into a fundraiser. My older son appropriately calls them, “FUNdraisers.”

Washer’s Tournament

  • Annually, we have a Washers Tournament. The object of the game is to toss a 3″ washer in the hole. Teams of two are randomly chosen and by the end of the night, champs are crowned.
  • Each year we hold a raffle and draw the winner in the Patriots parking lot during tailgating. Only 100 tickets are sold at $20 each. We have raffled off a Patriots grill, flat screen TV and an iPad.
  • Even a yearly rock paper scissors tournament which started at a summer cookout at my son’s new house has turned into a fundraiser. He has a local bar as a sponsor for the t-shirts he sells and a Boston bar that hosts it and sponsors koozies for all attendees.
  • Team DominACHIN members have climbed Mt. Washington the last three years.
  • I am a beer pourer at McCoy Stadium. My wife painted me a rock with the Paw Sox logo to hold my tips. Many fans commented on it so I told them they could have it for a PD donation. By the season’s end she had painted many more rocks and I had $250 more dollars for research!

The list goes on and on. Just about any activity can become a fundraiser!

My message to everyone is a simple one. Get involved! I realize that PD affects all of us differently and not everyone can do everything. However, everyone can do something! Do you like to write? Write a blog or an article for your local newspaper. Are you outgoing like me? Go on your local cable TV station to let the public know what PD is all about! Can you walk or use a wheelchair? Find your local APDA walk or attend the mecca of all walks, the Unity Walk in NYC on April 27th. Got family and friends who want to help? You can make a fund raiser out of anything! Collect cans, have a yard sale, host a bake sale at work, etc.

Mt. Washington Climb

Really ambitious? Climb Mt. Washington or try a half marathon. There is a New England Parkinson’s Bike Ride in the fall in Maine. Bikers choose from a 10, 30, 50 or 100 mile course. Besides raising money and awareness for Parkinson’s, your training will get you in great shape! The best thing we can do for ourselves is to exercise.

Got connections? Use them. We asked my friends at the Pawtucket Red Sox for support and this year will be our 4th Annual APDA/Team DominACHIN Night. A PSA on the jumbotron, we all walk on the field, and 50% of the ticket sales goes straight to PD research. You’ll find people are more than willing to help out. Any idea is a good idea. Just take it and put it into action.

Can you imagine if all the members of the Parkinson’s community began bombarding the media with articles and blogs about how PD affects us? We could educate the public and if we all did at least one fundraiser a year, we could raise millions to find a cure!!

I will never stop until a cure is found and I truly believe this will happen in my lifetime. Until then we must continue to raise money and educate the public. UNITE TO FIGHT!! Don’t let PD defeat us; we have to fight back. Please take action now. What a party it will be when a cure is found! If you need help with ideas, feel free to contact me at 508-878-8739, mikeachin@verizon.net or visit Team DominACHIN’s Facebook page.

I hope to meet you all soon!

Mike Achin Team Captain, Team DominACHIN

To DC and back

Monday, October 8th, 2012

(L) Helaine Isaacs, Event Director, PUW with (R) Stephanie Burnett, Director of Client Services, Zuri Group

Most of my time is spent in the Unity Walk office in NJ but last week was a productive and busy week in Washington, DC. I spent Sunday through Tuesday in National Harbor, MD attending the 2012 Blackbaud Conference for Non-Profit Organizations. It was great to learn from my colleagues at other non-profit organizations. The focus was on understanding best practices and how we can make it easier for our supporters to fundraise on behalf of the causes they are passionate about. On Tuesday, Stephanie Burnett, Director of Client Services at Zuri Group and I co-presented a session on strategic email campaigns. It was satisfying to share our experience with other organizations and hear their perspectives.

I spent Wednesday with one of our walkers who has expertise in market research and benefitted from his input on our post-Walk survey. You can expect our survey to be very different next year!

Then it was on to the Parkinson Action Network’s Morris Udall dinner on Wednesday night. It is PAN’s largest fundraising event of the year. We got to hear Diane Rehm interview Patrick Kennedy, who spoke about his launching One Mind for Research in 2011. The mission of the organization is to change the way brain research is funded, combining private philanthropy, government funding, and corporate investment with policy improvement, with the goal of accelerating the time from research to cure. The evening was a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge the PAN staff, State Coordinators and volunteers for their advocacy work. Congratulations to Michael Church and Gretchen Garie-Church on winning the Milly Kondracke Award for Outstanding Advocacy and to Colonel Kark Friedl for receiving the Morris K. Udall Award for Public Service.

Amtrak is very efficient and I was back at my desk by 11:00am on Thursday. It was good to be away and it’s good to be back. We are busy gearing up for the 2013 Walk and look forward to implementing all that we learned at the conference!

Helaine Isaacs
Event Director

Studying abroad with a cause

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Parkinson’s Unity Walk® Volunteer and Fundraiser Studies Abroad with a Cause and Attends EPDA’s First Ever European Unity Walk

Cheers from London!

This past weekend I embarked on a trip to Amsterdam, which is of course an unbelievably beautiful city.  Aside from visiting popular sights such as the Anne Frank House and taking a boat ride on the famous canals, my friend Sara and I had the privilege of participating in a charity walk for Parkinson’s disease, a cause that is so near to my heart.  My grandfather has been suffering from this unbearable disease for over twenty years, and his struggles have inspired my grandmother and I to take an active role in the hope of one day finding a cure.  Over the past few years, we have raised over one thousand dollars through fundraising, and even organizing our own walk.  I have also volunteered at the Unity Walk a few times.  One year, my best friend and I met Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson’s.

Marissa Walton with her grandparents, Edie and Robert Walton

My grandmother’s accomplishments and mine were recognized with a proclamation from the state of New Jersey, as well as a scholarship from the senior citizen group in my hometown.  However, we did not expect or want any recognition at all.  We just want to find a cure for Parkinson’s to put my grandfather and millions more out of their misery.  That being said, I was ecstatic when I found out that a walk was being held in Europe at the same time that I would be studying abroad in London!

Honestly, taking part in the European Unity Walk by EPDA (European Parkinson’s Disease Association) is an experience that I will never forget.  Not only was it awesome to be a part of the organization’s first ever walk, but it was breathtaking to share this experience with over one thousand people from twenty-five different countries.  I could now say that I was a part of a global community striving for the same goal-to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease.  That being said, I even teared-up listening to the speakers before the walk.  For some reason, I felt such a deep connection with my grandparents, who are thousands of miles away.  We are lucky enough to have such a uniquely close bond, and I appreciate everything that they have done for me over the past twenty years- from sitting through countless dance recitals and going on dozens of shopping trips.  I finally felt that I could give something back to them in return.

Overall, the EPDA did an amazing job of organizing such a large-scale event for the first time.  The day went off without a hitch, and it was awesome to meet the Executive Director of the Parkinson’s Unity Walk, Carol Walton (we are not related, to my knowledge!).  It was very interesting how the walk was set-up through the center of Amsterdam as well, which is very different from Central Park.  There were bike riders everywhere, which kept it exciting!  The walk ended with a huge celebration, and there were even tents with information regarding Parkinson’s disease.  It really did a great job to spread the message as random people in the city even stopped by to see what all the fuss was about.

Taking “my cause” with me on my study abroad adventure inspired me to stay a part of this wonderful community forever.  I know that it is already inspiring my younger brother, who has fundraised over two thousand dollars with my grandmother this past year.  It’s heartwarming that we have now made this a “family affair.”  I actually feel as if we are all one big happy family, and I want to thank the Parkinson’s Unity Walk in New York City and EPDA in Europe for making me feel as if I was a part of their family this past weekend!



Marissa Walton

Parkinson’s Unity Walk Volunteer and Fundraiser
Marist College ‘14

Packing our bags and heading to DC for the Blackbaud Conference for Non-Profits

Friday, September 28th, 2012





When the Unity Walk partnered with Zuri Group last year to redesign our website and develop an email campaign aimed at providing our walkers, donors and fundraisers with additional tools and resources to enhance their fundraise ability on behalf of the Walk, we were pleased when the consultant thought the project went so well that she planned on submitting it as a case study to the annual Blackbaud Conference for Non-Profits. We offered to cheer them on from the front row only to find out that their plan included our co-presenting with them. Well, the proposal was accepted and the session, “Creating Event Fundraising Campaigns”  will be held on Tuesday, October 1st at the Gaylord National Hotel and Conference Center.

The $300,000 (20%) increase in donations from the previous year also caught their attention! Our job is to figure out what worked well so we can keep the momentum going. We are delighted that our efforts are considered to be among “best practices” for peer to peer fundraising campaigns. We strive to provide our supporters with the resources and tools they need to be effective fundraisers and know we can always tweak what we are doing to make it even better.  My colleagues are all equally passionate about the causes they represent and I look forward to learning from these other organizations. We also learn all the time from our supporters. Feel free to get back to us with your questions, comments and feedback about our website or our fundraising tools and processes.