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Incorporating Parkinson’s Exercise Into Fundraisers

September 5th, 2014 by Helaine Isaacs, Event Director

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

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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

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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

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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

September 4th, 2014 by Helaine Isaacs, Event Director

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!

Celebrating Milestones – Unity Walk Style

September 3rd, 2014 by Helaine Isaacs, Event Director

We all celebrate life’s milestones. Birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, Bar or Bat Mitzvahs, and communions are just a few examples. How we choose to acknowledge those milestones varies with each person. Read on to learn about how a few of our walkers have chosen to make the Unity Walk a part of these milestone celebrations.

Milestone Birthdays

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Tim Potter of Team Daddy and his Dopamines was turning 60! His family decided to use Tim’s special birthday as an opportunity to create “60 Reasons to Cure Parkinson’s,” a surprise birthday party that also served as a fundraiser for the Unity Walk. They gathered people from all stages of his life – high school friends, college friends, former colleagues, members of his wedding party, and of course his family. As his daughter, Kim watched him make his way around the room, she commented “His voice was full of not only surprise, but of hope. It has been a long road, and to have so many important parts of his life in one place, he knew that he was not alone in his fight.” The Potters raised $1500 that night towards their team’s fundraising efforts on behalf of the Walk.

Wedding Celebrations
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Alison Brownscheidle is getting married this October 2014. Her father died of Parkinson’s disease and as a way of honoring his memory, Alison made a donation to the Unity Walk. She asked the Unity Walk to create donation cards that she will place on each table at the wedding. The text and color of the cards can be changed based on the request of the bride and groom. We wish Alison and Matt many years of happiness together and are grateful that her father’s memory (and the Unity Walk) will be a presence at their wedding.

What milestone celebrations do you have coming up in your life? Each and every one is an opportunity to combine the celebration of this milestone with your fundraising efforts on behalf of the Unity Walk. Your creativity is your only limitation! If you have a special celebration coming up and have a few ideas in mind about how to incorporate a fundraiser with it, please let us know if we can walk you through any of your ideas.

Tips for Creating a Successful Fundraising Event

September 2nd, 2014 by Helaine Isaacs, Event Director

Are you thinking of creating a fundraiser on behalf of the Unity Walk?  If you have a strong connection to the Parkinson’s community and you’re ready to step up your fundraising efforts, here are some tips to help you create your successful fundraising event.

CheckmarkChoose the Fundraiser That Will Be Fun For You
There is a reason the word “fun” is part of fundraising. Brainstorm with your friends and family. See what appeals to you and to them. Fundraisers typically require a committee who work collaboratively so choose something that will get others on board. Think about what you’ll enjoy planning and take into account the amount of lead time you have, given the complexity of the event.

CheckmarkRecruit Your Committee
When the workload is divided, the rewards will be multiplied. No one person should be planning a fundraiser on their own. Think about the various roles that need to be filled and play to people’s strengths. Some roles include:

  • Soliciting sponsors
  • Logistics/planning
  • Event promotion and PR
  • Day of event volunteers

CheckmarkIdentify sponsors
This may not be indicated for every event but it is well worth considering. Sponsors can cover the expenses associated with your event and if their donations exceed your expenses, then their sponsorship gets added to the amount that you will donate to the Unity Walk.

  • Lay out the benefits associated with various levels of sponsorship and be prepared to discuss this with potential sponsors.
  • Will their company name be listed on a flyer, brochure or t-shirt?
  • Are there opportunities for sponsors that provide support to the Parkinson’s community to share information about the resources that are available?
  • Don’t overlook the value of in-kind sponsors. Some examples of items that may be donated are refreshments, printing, t-shirts, silent auction items,etc.

CheckmarkNail Down the Logistics
Confirm the venue for your event.

  • Will you need approvals of any kind and/or a permit? This is often the case if you’re planning an event in a public setting.
  • Will you need to create a walk or race route?
  • Confirm all required paperwork is taken care of.
  • Are you serving food? Will it be donated or purchased? Will you be offering it at no cost or will you be selling it?

CheckmarkBudgeting
Not the most exciting aspect of the planning but definitely one of the most essential.

  • What’s your plan to raise money at your event?
  • Will there be an admission/registration fee? Is there one level or multiple levels?
  • Will you encourage discretionary donations instead of or in addition to an admission/registration fee?
  • Are you building sponsorship money into your plan?
  • Are there opportunities for additional revenue? Creating a silent auction is just one way to bring in more funds.
  • Plan for your expenses. You don’t want any surprises when you’re in the middle of planning your event.

CheckmarkSpread the Word!!

  • Create your written materials first – flyers, brochures, etc.
  • Use social media to spread the word about your event. Consider creating a Facebook page for your event.
  • Submit your event for inclusion on the PUW Community Calendar. Send your materials to PUW so we can promote your event on the Unity Walk’s social media sites.
  • Prepare a press release and reach out to the media in your local community.
  • Post your event on community calendars – online and in local newspapers.
  • Post flyers around town.
  • Spread the word with emails, mail and phone calls in addition to social media.

CheckmarkThank your supporters

  • Take lots of photos so you can share the excitement of the day with your supporters.
  • Thank your sponsors, donors and participants and then thank them again.

After the work is done at your event, bask in the satisfaction of a job well done. Complete this form so the Unity Walk can include your fundraiser on the Parkinson’s CHAMP in Action page. Share your ideas and success with other walkers. You never know what will create the spark that motivates another walker to create a fundraiser of their own.

The Unity Walk office can help you think through your fundraising events. Please call us and let us know of your plans. No need to recreate the wheel. We have worked with so many walkers and teams on their events and will gladly share lessons learned and best practices. For more ideas, information, forms and templates, check the “Your Fundraising Events” page on our website.

Types of FUNdraisers – One Just Might be Right for You

September 1st, 2014 by Parkinson's Unity Walk Team

If you’re thinking of creating a fundraiser on behalf of the Unity Walk, there’s a high probability that it’s because you have a strong connection to the Parkinson’s community and you’re ready to step up your fundraising efforts. How you decide to accomplish that is another story. There are a wide range of options. In the next few blog posts, we will highlight various types of events that have been held on behalf of the Unity Walk. Whether it’s a local walk, a restaurant fundraiser, an event involving some form of exercise, celebrating a milestone occasion, or any other kind of fundraiser – regardless of the scale of the event – there are some elements that are common to planning for all of them.

So if you are ready to take your fundraising efforts up another level, check out information about how you can plan Milestone celebrations, Restaurant fundraisers, Exercise events, and even planning a local walk in your community — there are so many events to choose from!

Karaoke-for-a-Cause-(3)-daypasta-parkinsons-team-rossi
The Unity Walk office can help you think through your fundraising events. Please call us and let us know of your plans. No need to recreate the wheel. We have worked with so many walkers and teams on their events and will gladly share lessons learned and best practices. For more ideas, information, forms and templates, check the “Your Fundraising Events” page on our website.

Once you figure out which event type is right for you, make sure you check out our tips for creating a successful fundraising event.