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Knock Down Parkinson’s with Rock Steady Boxing Will Be at the 21st Parkinson’s Unity Walk

April 15th, 2015 by Guest Blogger

Awareness of Rock Steady Boxing’s value and its popularity is growing among the Parkinson’s community. Just around the time that they were featured on NPR, we received a phone call from Marlene Kahan, a long-time walker who asked if we knew about this program. She’s been attending at Gleason’s Gym and was singing its praises. Marlene introduced us to Roberta Marongiu and Alex Montaldo, Co-founders of Rock Steady Boxing NY/LA. Not only did Roberta and Alex agree to share their experience on the PUW blog but they’ve agreed to have members of their group perform two demonstrations on the Bandshell stage on Walk day. Check the Event Timeline for approximate times of their demonstrations and listen to announcements from the Bandshell stage for exact times.

RSB banner
Rock Steady Boxing NY/LA is a bi-coastal non-profit organization devoted to helping people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) re-gain control over their lives. We fight back against PD inside and outside the ring!

Intense exercise and boxing drills not only help improve motor and non-motor functions, but they also contribute decisively to deconstructing the stigma associated with the disease.

Rock Steady Boxing was created in 2006 in Indianapolis, IN. We fell in love with the program and decided to bring it to New York and Los Angeles a year ago, and now we have two wonderful groups, one in Dumbo (NYC) and one in Santa Monica (LA).

Boxing classes are the core of our program, but our goal is to create a much more extensive support system. Most people still don’t know much about PD, so the diagnosis comes even more as a shock for them and their families, making them feel powerless.

We believe that a good fighter is an informed one! That’s why we created a network of Parkinson’s experts, support groups, physical therapists, and neurologists that believe in our program and are always ready to help.

Parkinson’s is a big, scary enemy, but together we can fight back. We want our boxers, and all the people who are battling this disease to know that they are not alone. They’re part of a team, together with their families, friends, doctors, physical therapists, support groups and us. We are their corner-men, always present and ready to help and give them strength, but they are the captain of the team. Their fighting spirit is key to knocking down Parkinson’s day by day, until we manage to knock it out for good!


Alex Montaldo
Co-founder, Rock Steady Boxing Head Coach

Dr. Roberta Marongiu, PhD
Co-founder. Rock Steady Boxing Coach

Jewelry for a Cure

April 9th, 2015 by Helaine Isaacs, Event Director

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.”

In Subways and Buses Courtesy of the Wilkins Parkinson’s Foundation

April 6th, 2015 by Katherine Savillo, Manager, Events

Courtesy of the Wilkins Parkinson’s Foundation (WPF), advertisements about the 21st Parkinson’s Unity Walk can be found in New York City’s subways, buses and stations!  We are very grateful to WPF for donating media to help promote awareness about the Parkinson’s Unity Walk and about Parkinson’s disease.

If you’re in New York, keep an eye out for our ads like the one pictured below and send a photo (of you next to the sign) to @unitywalk #puw2015.

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

April 5th, 2015 by Guest Blogger

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

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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

New York State of Mind

March 30th, 2015 by Guest Blogger

I have the pleasure of opening the mail each day – and this time of year it is truly a pleasure to see all those checks arriving on a daily basis! One of our walkers, Doug Nemeth does an active mail campaign in addition to soliciting online donations and his donations are coming in strong. You can only imagine my surprise when I learned that Doug isn’t able to attend the Walk this year. It’s for a great reason – his son is receiving his doctorate in pharmacology. Doug “gets” the Walk. While he loves the experience of participating each year, he understands that at the end of the day, you don’t have to physically be at the Walk to raise funds for research and his donors understand that as well. Doug will end up raising as much this year as he has in the past when he’s walked in Central Park.

Life happens and things come up that may keep you from attending the Walk one year. We hope you will take Doug’s lead and continue to fundraise. This is one instance that you don’t have to be in it, to win it. Just like the lyrics to Billy Joel’s song, Doug is in a “New York State of Mind.”

Read on to hear from Doug Nemeth of team Livin’ La Levodopa directly …


I was diagnosed 10 years ago with Parkinson’s disease. At the time I had no idea what Parkinson’s disease would do to my life. I feel that the quality of my life is better now than it was 10 years ago! This has a lot to do with my wife, family and friends. Much of this is due to the hard work of researchers funded by the Unity Walk.

Many of the friends we’ve made these last 10 years have been through the Parkinson’s family. I say family because we feel like brothers and sisters. We have made many friends through our support group.

Through this support group I learned of the Parkinson’s Unity Walk in New York City’s Central Park. Though all of us share some symptoms of the disease and not others, we all share one common desire – to beat Parkinson’s disease. By supporting the Unity Walk we are putting 100% of our donations into research that gives us and our children the chance at a life without Parkinson’s disease. I have been attending the Parkinson’s Unity Walk since 2009. We have a hard-working, proud, and loving team called “Livin’ La Levodopa.” It has been rewarding beyond what I ever imagined. Thousands of people coming together with love in their hearts for all the people around them and/or loved ones lost to this disease. We are driven to do all we can to beat PD and that is why I participate in the Unity Walk.

This year I’m the proud father of a son who is graduating from University of Pittsburgh with a Doctor of Pharmacy. Who knows? Maybe he will be the one who finds the cure. Unfortunately, the graduation is the same day as the Unity Walk in New York City. My priorities are in order and I will enjoy the entire weekend with my son at graduation. A big part of my heart will be with everyone in New York City that day.

That has not kept us from fundraising even though we won’t physically be at the Walk. So far, we’ve raised close to $4500 and we’re still going strong with close to four weeks left until the Walk. After all, it’s not about the physical walk. It’s about raising awareness, demonstrating support, and raising funds for research. The fundraising has gone well again this year. We are blessed to have many people who care so much and give of their time and resources. My wife and I have raised over $34,000 since 2009 for the Parkinson’s Unity Walk. My team,”Livin’ La Levodopa” has raised over $157,000 since its inception.

We are making a difference. Many thanks to all who have contributed. We could not do it without you.

That is why I am in a “New York state of mind.”

Doug Nemeth
“Livin’ La Levodopa”