Archive for the ‘20th Walk’ Category

Today Show 4.25.14 – Be There!!

Monday, April 21st, 2014

(April 21, 2014) – What are you doing early in the morning on Friday, April 25th? I know where I’ll be – on the plaza at the Today Show – and I hope you’ll join me and other participants from the Unity Walk.

We will be meeting in a new location this year! You creatures of habit – pay attention! We have a new connection at the Today Show so we don’t need to wait on line to enter the plaza of the Today Show. Instead, we will gather between 5:30-6:00am in front of the main entrance to 30 Rockefeller Plaza. That’s the building that the Christmas tree is in front of in the winter. Rockefeller Plaza runs between 49th and 50th Streets and is parallel to and in between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. We will be escorted onto the plaza at 6:00am and placed in a location that will give us the most visibility during the Today Show. If you need me to reach me that morning, call me on my cell 609-651-9155.

Today Show 30-rock2-MeetHere

I used to arrive early when it’s still dark and hold a place on line for our group. I’m often the first person on line and I’ve met some incredible people while standing on line at that hour. Last year, there was a group of high school students from West Virginia who were visiting NY for the first time. They were completely ripped off by their NY cab driver, who charged each person the fare on the meter but that didn’t faze them. When they found out about the Walk, several of the students spontaneously gave me cash donations. The year before there was the 80 year old woman who drove in with her daughters from PA to celebrate her 80th birthday with the hope of being chosen for a makeover. I am convinced that it was the support from the Unity Walk crowd that got her selected and she looked amazing!

All those wonderful folks pale in comparison to the folks who show up in support of the Unity Walk. There are often several regulars – Team Cantore, Daddy and his Dopamines and the DominACHINs are in that group – but I always get to meet some new walkers and teams that I wouldn’t have crossed paths with otherwise and that’s what I enjoy most about the day.

photo from Helaine

We hope for our one minute of glory when Al Roker or one of his colleagues come out to the plaza, our signs held high and t-shirts worn proudly. We’ve been lucky the past several years and Al’s come over to speak to us. We hope you can join us in person. If you’re watching from home, use our hashtag #puw2014 and let us know you’re with us in spirit.

Helaine Isaacs
PUW Event Director

 

 

Credit Melanie Ahron IMG-20130426-00844 photo from Helaine 3

Calling All Team T-shirts!

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

 

2013 PUW Memory Quilt

2013 PUW Memory Quilt

Many of our teams proudly wear their team t-shirts at the Walk, displaying their bright colors, clever team names and creative designs. Do you see your 2013 team t-shirt in the photo?

Did you know that the top 50 team captains will be entered into a raffle drawing to win a PUW memory quilt made up of approximately 50 team t-shirts from the 2014 Unity Walk? Whether or not you win, we hope you’ll be part of this prize by bringing your team t-shirt shirt with you on Walk day and dropping it off with the volunteer at the Team Photo booth. Can’t make it to the Walk or forgot to bring it with you the day of the Walk? No problem. You can mail it to the Unity Walk office at PO Box 275, Kingston, NJ 08528. The Unity Walk reserves the right to select which t-shirts to include in the quilt.

We received a treasure trove of team t-shirts last year and hope to have the same experience this April.  Having your team t-shirt be a part of this quilt symbolizes the important part you play in the Unitiy Walk. We couldn’t have the Walk – or create this quilt without you!

Thanks,
Helaine Isaacs
PUW Event Director

 

Ken Aidekman, PUW Co-founder reflects on the First Parkinson’s Unity Walk and its Meaning to the Parkinson’s Community

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

To kick-off Parkinson’s Awareness month, we’ve asked Ken Aidekman, Co-founder of the Unity Walk to reflect on the first Walk in 1994 and how far we’ve come over the past twenty years. We are grateful to Margot for her vision and Ken’s commitment and support throughout the years.

Helaine Isaacs
PUW Event Director

1stWalkand2012Walk

Twenty years ago, I witnessed 200 walkers come together in Riverside Park to raise $16,000 for Parkinson’s research. This year, over 10,000 walkers will gather and raise over 100 times more than we did at that first Parkinson’s Unity Walk!

I have seen the amazing things that a Parkinson’s grassroots effort can accomplish. I watched a small band of advocates succeed in raising awareness and funds for research in Washington. I saw Margot Zobel take a simple idea for a walk and turn it into a dynamic force for good. She sensed a vacuum in New York and turned it into an opportunity for people around the world. Her strength derived from her conviction that individuals have the power to change their lives through creative cooperation.

The energy that Margot brought to the Walk remains with us today. You can see it in the faces of family members who have traveled great distances to be here. You can hear it in the voices of people living with Parkinson’s who describe how it helps get them through the difficult the months ahead. And you can feel the love that goes into every t-shirt and sign supporting a grandparent, parent, spouse, child or friend.

What is it about this Walk? Joan Samuelson, the founder of the Parkinson’s Action Network, talked about it at the second Parkinson’s Unity Walk.

“I don’t know how many of you were in the same situation I was when I decided to come and people said “Are you going to walk?” and I said “No, I can’t walk that far.” Because often I can’t. And it was pretty nice for me to be with others in the same situation – who didn’t know if they could make it for sure the whole way.

One thing I knew was that it would be OK if I didn’t, which isn’t always true in the world we live in. We try to be equal to everyone else around us. We want to be able to do all the things that we used to do. It’s hard to give those things up. But, it was nice to walk today knowing that if at some point my foot started doing the crazy things it does or if I got tired that it would be OK. And that somehow, somebody in this crowd would make sure that I got here by the end.”

The Walk is about a day of faith, trust, friendship, love, commitment and empowerment. There are many individual teams at the Walk, but no matter what, we are all members of the same team – the team to end Parkinson’s disease.

Together, we take pride in our accomplishments in fostering community and funding research. We find inspiration in our growth and empowerment. But, there’s a long road ahead before we cross the finish line. We want nothing less than the total banishment of Parkinson’s disease from the human condition. Let our battle be remembered as a glorious triumph by those who believed that one person can make a difference.

Each step in Central Park brings us closer to our goal.

Join us on April 26th. We can’t wait to see you!

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Ken Aidekman
Co-founder, Parkinson’s Unity Walk

Yoga and Parkinson’s: A Healing Path for Every Side

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

We are sometimes asked “What is the best exercise for a person living with Parkinson’s disease?” The answer – the exercise you will actually do. For some people, it is yoga. I first met Renee Le Verrier several years ago at a Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease conference  in Providence, RI. I was amazed at how she transformed the room while leading a chair yoga class for people living with Parkinson’s disease. We are grateful to Renee for sharing the impact that yoga has had on her life and her Parkinson’s disease.

Renee Le Verrier, RYT, is a certified yoga teacher and author of Yoga for Movement Disorders:  Rebuilding Strength, Balance and Flexibility for Parkinson’s and Dystonia (book and DVD). She teaches at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Parkinson’s Yoga and Lecture Series, Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital’s stroke rehabilitation program. Renee also collaborates with the MA Chapter APDA and TriYoga Boston in offering a five-day certificate program for yoga teachers who want to learn how to work with students with Parkinson’s. For more information, please visit http://www.limyoga.com/.

Helaine Isaacs
PUW Event Director

DSC_2301I stumbled in to my first yoga class, literally, when I was in my 30s. I didn’t notice the half-step up and I entered the quiet space with an aayee, whoop, and oof. Embarrassed, I tugged my hoodie around my reddening face. Though my left side moved slowly and felt uncoordinated – the result of a childhood stroke – I’d never quite gotten used to the limp, the stumbles.

When I snuck a peek around the room, I discovered that no one seemed bothered by my noisy, clumsy interruption. A peacefulness lingered in the room.

The teacher led us through poses and I felt my body absorb both the movement and the calm around me. Sore muscles softened, my breathing had a rhythm to it. Even a bit of the residual hypertonia and imbalance in my left arm and leg released. I felt taller.

The biggest surprise came as I realized that my mind relaxed, too. All that brain chatter – mental to-do lists, a review of the morning’s appointments in my head, automatic self-correcting (those should’ves and could’ves, as in: should’ve seen that step) – hushed. Even the song lyric that had replayed itself over and over for the past three days was gone. Yoga had led my mind from planning ahead, thinking back, judging myself. It guided me to the only moment that there really is: the one happening now. I felt free.

mod1childMy Parkinson’s diagnosis occurred after a decade of practicing yoga. I’d started to stumble because my right side moved slowly and felt uncoordinated. Thoughts rushed into my brain: What will happen? How will I manage? Can someone please help me open this jar? I was 42 and I was running out of sides.

Parkinson’s provided plenty of opportunities to stumble and to worry about the future and yearn for what was.  Yoga helped ease the physical struggles by making me stronger and more flexible. It also calmed the emotional struggles because it continued to guide me along the path to the center within me.

I decided to spread the good word about yoga for Parkinson’s while I was attending physical therapy sessions early after my diagnosis. In that six-week program, I worked with therapists in the pool, socialized with fellow patients during lunch, attended counseling sessions. There was a bit of almost everything therapeutic. The one thing missing, I commented at one point, was yoga. As engaging as the rehab was, no one session linked body and mind, providing that freeing sense of well-being, of being in the moment.

I still remember the look the OT gave me when I said that. She gazed across the table, raised her eyebrows and with a dramatic blink, tilted her head and stared wide-eyed at me. What she said without saying a word was: What are you going to do about that? Can you think of anyone who knows yoga and knows what it’s like to live inside a movement disorder body? Um, I remember thinking. Me? Within the week, I had registered for teacher training. That was seven years, countless classes, and a published book ago.

When I stumbled into that first yoga class, I stumbled into something bigger than an approach to movement. I discovered that I do have another side. In addition to my left and my right, there is a healing, centering side: my inside.

Renee Le Verrier

 

Put the FUN in FUNdraiser

Friday, February 21st, 2014

(February 21, 2014) – I am always impressed with the positive energy behind the fundraisers created by our walkers and teams. In addition to the tried and true method of reaching out to friends and family for donations, many of our walkers decide to mobilize their supporters at an event that raises awareness and funds for research. We highlight these events on our Parkinson’s CHAMP in Action page, to acknowledge their efforts and in the hope that one of the ideas will inspire someone else to create a fundraiser of their own. Restaurant “give back” nights, bar crawls, pancake breakfasts, zumbathons, local 5Ks, bowl-a-thons, and fashion shows are just some examples of how Unity Walkers are raising funds for research. The Unity Walk is just over two months away. There’s still time to plan a fundraiser for this year.

Looking for inspiration? Look no further than Debbie Flamini’s Volley for a Cure held last night at the Hartford School in Mount Laurel, NJ to raise funds for Debbie’s team, Debina’s Dream. I had the privilege of attending and experiencing first-hand, the support of the entire school for Debbie and this cause. I could barely find a parking space when I arrived which I took as a good sign about attendance. The spirit hit me the minute I walked in the door and was greeted with a warm welcome by several Hartford School students. Debbie was in the school lobby being interviewed by the local CBS cameraman and the story aired on the 11pm news. There was a carnival before the volleyball games and food was for sale before and after. Everything was donated so there were no expenses. It was the 5th grade vs. the 6th grade staff on the volleyball court. Both teams rocked but the 5th grade staff prevailed. The bleachers were filled and the teams were cheered on by parents, students and staff. The final tally isn’t in yet but so far, over $6,000 has been raised.
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The fundraiser created by Debbie and the Hartford School is just one example of the many amazing efforts put forth by our walkers and represents the best of the Unity Walk – Debbie’s resilience and positive attitude, her determination to fight this disease and work towards a cure, and the support of those who care about her. Never underestimate the power of community. It was palpable at last night’s event.

I wish I could personally attend each and every fundraiser held on behalf of the Unity Walk but most are not in such close proximity to our office. Even without being there, I know that what these fundraisers all have in common is the sense of commitment and community that is created when people gather for this cause in support of a person they care about. To paraphrase the famous line from Kevin Costner’s movie, Field of Dreams, “Build it and they will come.” Create your fundraiser and you’ll be amazed at the outpouring of support you’ll receive.

Once you decide on your fundraiser, let us know the details and we will post the information on our community calendar and with your permission, on our social media sites. Once the event has passed, complete this form and send us photos and we’ll share your experience on our Parkinson’s CHAMP in Action page.

Have questions or need some guidance? We’re only a phone call and email away. We wish you every success with your fundraising!

Helaine Isaacs
PUW Event Director