• Archives

  • Categories

  • Subscribe to Blog via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Happy New Year!

December 31st, 2016 by Parkinson's Unity Walk Team

Wishing You All the Best in 2017!

Happy Holidays!

December 24th, 2016 by Parkinson's Unity Walk Team

From Our Family to Yours!

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 21st, 2016 by Helaine Isaacs, Event Director

puw-thanksgiving2016

Here at the Parkinson’s Unity Walk, Thanksgiving is the time of year when we reflect on all the things we are grateful for – and there are many.

  • We are grateful to our walkers who raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease and funds for research each year. They are a committed and resilient group of individuals who meet life’s challenges with grace and humor.
  • We are grateful to our donors, many of whom have a personal connection to this important cause. We know how much it means to our walkers to have their support.
  • We are grateful to our sponsors. It is their continued and generous support that allows 100% of donations to fund research.
  • We are grateful to the Parkinson’s foundations that participate in the Unity Walk. They provide information and resources to the PD community and lead the way on the research funded with donations to the Walk.
  • We are grateful to the researchers who use the funds raised at the Walk to move us closer to finding the cause and cure for Parkinson’s disease. Until that day comes, they continue to develop therapies that improve the quality of life of those living with PD.
  • We are grateful to our volunteers, many of whom have been with the Walk for many years. The Walk would not be the same without their support.
  • We are grateful for the sense of community that is created when thousands of people gather, all committed to finding the cause and cure for Parkinson’s disease.
  • We are grateful for the relationships we’ve made through the Parkinson’s Unity Walk. They enrich our lives every day.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful and satisfying Thanksgiving holiday!

Charity Can Begin at Work In Addition to Beginning at Home

November 11th, 2016 by Helaine Isaacs, Event Director

There’s the old adage – “Charity begins at home” – but for some of our walkers, it might be updated to “Charity begins at work.” In March, 2017, we posted a write up on our blog about HomeServe’s charity pitch. Employees were encouraged to present a charity that is near and dear to them and their families, to a panel of their peers and company leadership. A company-wide vote was then taken to select the top three charities. The Parkinson’s Unity Walk was one of three charities selected from sixteen submissions. HomeServe matched every donation dollar for dollar and donated an additional $1,000 to each organization in the contest. In total, their team raised almost $15,000!

HomeServe’s commitment to community service was recognized recently by the Connecticut Better Business Bureau. The awarded HomeServe with the 2016 Marketplace Excellence Award in the Community Care category. We congratulate HomeServe on this well-deserved acknowledgement from the local business community!

bbb-award-1120161
Many companies encourage their employees to give back to their community by getting involved in organizations that are meaningful to them. How they refer to this function may vary company to company but the intent is the same. It may be as simple as speaking to one of the Human Resource representatives in your company to ask if they have a program to promote employee engagement. Please consider reaching out to someone at your place of business to find out how this is accomplished in your company.

Brooklyn Parkinson Group

November 4th, 2016 by Guest Blogger

Support groups have a strong presence at the Unity Walk and Brooklyn Parkinson Group (BPG) leads the way. They have grown in size, spirit and offerings and convey the support that is derived from their group. Not all support groups offer the same breadth of classes but the sense of connection and community is available in all of them. We’ve invited Leonore Gordon, Team Captain of the Brooklyn Parkinson Group’s team at the Walk to share her experience of BPG.
Helaine Isaacs
PUW Event Director

untitled-1
The actual home of Brooklyn Parkinson’s Group (BPG) has been, since 2001, in downtown Brooklyn, in a building owned by the world-renowned dancer/choreographer Mark Morris, who heads his own dance company and public dance-school, located up the block from the famed Brooklyn Academy of Music. However, the whole notion of people with Parkinson’s benefitting from dance was the brain-child of Olie Westheimer, another Brooklyn resident who brought the idea to Mark Morris in 2001. Shortly thereafter,  Dance for PD® was launched as a non-profit collaboration between the Mark Morris Dance Group and BPG.

Mark Morris generously offered space for the Brooklyn Parkinson’s community to house our dance classes and, over time, our singing and movement classes, and monthly support groups for People with Parkinson’s (PWP) and their caregivers. Morris threw in the bonus of providing two of his top dancers as our dance teachers, David Leventhal and John Hegginbotham, joined for many years by Misty Owens, a gifted tap dancer and dance teacher. The icing on the cake was the added gift of a live pianist/composer of exceptional talent, William Wade, who played (and still plays) piano during the dance classes, who went on to teach and lead the PD singing group.

It wasn’t long before the popular Friday “PD Movement Lab” was added to the line-up, led by another celebrated BPG star, professional dancer and choreographer Pamela Quinn, who lives with PD herself. Quinn now also leads classes in Manhattan, and travels across the globe, teaching her techniques.

Birthed at the start of the 21st century, this new organism, “Brooklyn Parkinson’s Group” became a life-raft not only for me, but for dozens of others, (today numbering in the hundreds) some arriving from New Jersey, Long Island and the four other boroughs. I began to gratefully partake in the free weekly classes for PD folks and care-partners in dance, movement and singing in 2003, gradually rescheduling my hours as a family therapist and Resident Poet in the NYC public schools so I could attend. Participation slowly became a necessity, motivating me (and countless others) out of our houses and into the welcome company of peers struggling to adjust to living with Parkinson’s.

By 2008, my own progressing symptoms forced me (not unlike innumerable compatriots) to reluctantly retire from my two careers. By then, fortunately for me and about 15 others, a new partnership had recently emerged between BPG and Long Island University, initiated by a lawyer living with PD. LIU was just a few blocks away, and we jumped at the chance to attend twice-weekly aerobic and weight-training exercise classes.

bpg-blog-2
Suddenly, nearly every weekday, classes had become available, strengthening our bodies, our voices and our spirits. Of equal value, this daily-ness and continuity allowed many of us to become a community, and a family. Traveling between boroughs, we began to share meals, birthday celebrations, attend theater together, sign up for boat rides to see fall foliage, to visit one another in hospitals, and sadly, to jointly attend way too many funerals.

In 2011, one of our dance teachers, David Leventhal, once a lead dancer with a soaring career in the Mark Morris Dance Group, astonished us all by leaving the dance group in order to become director of “Dance for PD.” He began to train interested dancers to initiate new Dance for PD classes across the US and eventually, throughout the world.  His program and techniques are being taught in over 100 communities worldwide.

In 2013, after being filmed for a year by documentary filmmaker Dave Iverson (who also lives with Parkinson’s) and videographer Eddie Maritz, a beautiful hour-long film, “Capturing Grace”, was released. The film followed our dance community for over a year as we prepared for a final professional dance performance in 2012, and the film won Audience Favorite awards at film festivals across the US, eventually appearing on PBS.  “Capturing Grace” has inspired viewers with Parkinson’s world-wide to dance and to believe in their abilities to feel graceful again. capturinggracefilm.com

BPG and Mark Morris Dance Company are still partnering to offer dance and singing classes in all five boroughs, as well as in New Jersey. Thus explains the fierce loyalty of the Brooklyn Parkinson’s Group. At the end of the day, we all share a common bond of one extraordinary, creative, patient-based Parkinson’s community in the greater New York City area.

Leonore Gordon
Team Captain, Brooklyn Parkinson’s Group & Friends