Event Info > Bonander Award

The Alan Bonander Humanitarian Award

The Alan Bonander Humanitarian Award winner is nominated and voted on by a PUW committee, including Alan Bonander's sister, Evelyn. It is awarded to an individual in recognition of their exemplary contribution to the Parkinson’s community.

Alan Bonander was a person with Parkinson's who selflessly devoted to his time to patient advocacy through research and direct interaction with physicians. He was a dedicated husband, Californian, support person, consultant, advocate, writer, Parkinson's medication information resource, Parkinson's patient, Palidotomy recipient, asthma sufferer and internet pioneer. This is just a hint of who Alan Bonander was until his untimely death in 1996.

Ross Bonander, Alan Bonander's son, reflects on the things that were important to his dad:  his family, hockey, and sharing PD info.

Congratulations to David Iverson, recipient of the 2019 Alan Bonander Humanitarian Award

Dave Iverson is a recently retired broadcast journalist and filmmaker. During his 40-year broadcast journalism award Dave wrote, produced and reported documentary programs for national broadcast on PBS and anchored weekly programs for local PBS and NPR outlets in Wisconsin and in San Francisco. During his career he won numerous regional and national awards including a National Emmy award for his 1999 PBS documentary The 30 Second Candidate.

Following his diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease in 2004, Dave shifted the focus of his filmmaking career. In 2009 he wrote, narrated and co-produced the PBS Frontline film, My Father, My Brother and Me, which explored his family saga with Parkinson’s and the scientific, ethical and political issues raised by the search for a cure. In 2014, he wrote, produced and directed Capturing Grace, which told the story of what happens when a group of dancers with Parkinson’s disease join forces with the world-renowned Mark Morris Dance Group. The documentary won numerous awards at film festivals around the country and was broadcast nationally on PBS in 2015.

In 2009, Dave became a founding member of the Michael J. Fox Foundation’s Patient Council and served on the council for 9 years, the last three as co-chair. From 2012 to the present, he’s has also been a contributing editor at the foundation, hosting podcasts and webinars and moderating patient education conferences around the country.  Dave has been a frequent speaker and panelist at Parkinson’s conferences around the country and co-hosted along with journalist Jon Palfreman the Portland Countdown podcast series, which led up to the World Parkinson Congress in 2016.

Dave has also been an active fundraiser for Parkinson’s disease research. He’s completed five New York Marathons for Team Fox, most recently in November 2018 when he and his daughter Laura ran the NYC Marathon together. Dave had just turned 70 and his daughter was turning 40 so their motto was “70+40=26.2” He’s not sure what he’ll do if he makes it to age 80 but he knows he will always have the great good fortune to be fortified by our extended Parkinson’s community.


David Iverson receiving the 2019 Alan Bonander Humanitarian Award from Evelyn Bonander

 Evelyn Bonander Presentation Speech:

"I am thrilled to present the Alan Bonander Humanitarian award to Dave Iverson.

Dave recently retired from an illustrious 40-year career in all aspects of broadcast journalism.  He has produced more than 20 documentary programs for national broadcast on PBS; for 10 years he hosted a weekly radio program for San Francisco’s PBS station; for 20 years he anchored a weekly broadcast for Wisconsin’s Public Radio; he has served as a special correspondent for the PBS NewsHour. He has won over 50 regional and national broadcast awards including a National Emmy Ward for his 1999 PBS documentary: The 30 Second Candidate.  

And he has Parkinson’s disease diagnosed 15 years ago – 2004. In his words, the diagnosis “sent my life in a new direction”. While continuing his other broadcasting duties, Dave shifted the focus of his filmmaking career.  In 2009, he wrote, narrated and co-produced the PBS Frontline film: MY FATHER, MY BROTHER AND ME which explored his family saga with Parkinson’s and the many issues raised by the search for a cure. (It’s avaible on-line, watch it). In 2014 he wrote, produced and directed CAPTURING GRACE which told the story of what happens when a group of dancers with Parkinson’s join forces with the world renown Mark Morris Dance Group directed by David Leventhal.   Seen at several film festivals, it won numerous awards and was broadcast nationally on PBS in 2015.  I hope it can be broadcast nationally again!

In 2009, Dave became a founding member of the Michael J. Fox Foundation’s Patient Council serving for many years as co-chair. Working together, council members and foundation staff assure that the patient viewpoint plays a central role in the foundation’s research efforts. He also became a contributing editor for the Fox Foundation hosting the monthly Third Thursday webinar series and producing monthly podcasts on the latest research developments.
An active fundraiser for research, he has completed five New York Marathons for Team Fox, most recently, this past November (2018).  And even climbed Mt. Whitney as a member of Tour de Fox.

Additionally, Dave has moderated numerous panel discussions, co-hosted many podcast series, spoken at over 30 regional conferences all around the country.  When we spoke on the phone recently, he said: “I talk for a living”.

Dave’s words made me think of my brother Alan.  A computer guy – who in 1984, age 44, was diagnosed with Young-Onset Parkinson’s after being told for several years he was too young for PD.  Alan hid, began working long hours just to stay out-of-public view.  But he had his “computer for a living”!  Slowly he began, via his computer, finding others – emailing – then talking on the phone – then meeting in person.  Soon PD specific ListServs.  Think giant emails which became “virtual” support groups.  Cyber friends from all over – even as far away as Australia.  This was Alan’s medium – helping “virtual” friends find answers like: “can you tell me about” or “did this ever happen to you” or “do you know a physician”” even intervening on behalf of an incarcerated PDer whose jailers knew nothing about PD.  Then, with friends, he helped found the California Young On-Set Parkinson’s Support Network.  His life was “sent in a new direction”.

Alan’s care was at California’s Parkinson Institute. Here his computer science joined his physician’s medical science.  In 1991 he volunteered for a two-week study of duodenal infusion.  It involved pumping a liquified Sinemet solution directly into his small intestine via a tube in his nose. It worked – he would not need to retire!  He could continue working!  But the delivery system made it prohibitive.  So, with his physician, he figured it out.  He liquified his Sinemet pills every morning, poured the liquid into a small bottle with an attached tube.  The tube was also surgically inserted into his small intestine.  It was all wired to a small computer and it all fit into his fanny pack. With the press of a button he was symptom free for hours every day.

In 1993 he went to Sweden for a pallidotomy having it videotaped so his physician could observe the surgery.  True physician/researcher/patient collaboration.  Perhaps a forerunner to efforts like the Michael J. Fox Patient Council.  


Thank you for sharing your story helping us to understand that PD is many diseases.

Thank you for giving us words to describe PD
         PD is a disease of subtraction
         PD is a disease of inches
         PD is life in slow motion
         PD is a disease of challenges and how each answer is what matters most

Thank you for assuring PD is a shared journey, there is strength in numbers, and along the way you will meet remarkable people.

Thank you for your articulate and authentic reporting, attentive listening, skilled hosting of webinars, podcasts and conferences.

Thank you for Capturing Grace - PDer’s are and can be dancers.

Thank you for giving us hope that PD progression can be slowed, quality of life enhanced, even as we yearn for a cure.

Dave, I am humbled, so grateful and so proud to present the Alan Bonander Humanitarian Award to you on behalf of the PD Community.  Congratulations."


Dave Iverson's Bonander Award Remarks:

"Thank you, Evelyn and Carol. It’s a great honor to receive an award named for Alan Bonander who was such an innovative pioneer in our Parkinson’s community. And it’s also a great honor to follow in the footsteps of so many distinguished past award recipients, many of whom are here this evening. Among them is David Leventhal who leads Dance for PD. David is quite possibly the nicest person on the planet … if it weren’t for the fact that past winners Bill Wilkins and Steve DeWitte are also here! As is the extraordinary John Ball. And I also want to thank my wonderful friends from the Michael J. Fox Foundation who are here this evening as well. Thank you, everyone, for being here this evening.

As some of you know, this evening was actually supposed to happen a year ago. But last April my dear wife Lynn was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer and it wasn’t possible for us to come. But tonight, following a year long journey that included surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiation, I’m pleased to report that Lynn completed her last cancer treatment on Monday and is here with me this evening.

Lynn and I had a chance to visit with Evelyn Bonander this morning and we talked about living with Parkinson’s and all that has changed since her brother’s days as an early Parkinson’s advocate. We talked about how Parkinson’s changes you, what the disease takes from you but how it can also change your life trajectory in surprising ways. As Evelyn mentioned a moment ago, I sometimes refer to Parkinson’s as a disease of subtraction, because it takes things from you one by one. But if you’re lucky, as I am, I think it’s also true that it can add to your life’s journey as well. And that happens in part because of the challenge Parkinson’s offers. Or as Michael J. Fox puts it, “Parkinson’s has asked more of me than I ever would have asked of myself.”

And I think what the disease asks of you is this: what are you going to do now? What is it that your life is asking you to do? And we each have to find our own answer to that question. For me, it became the opportunity to make a film about the wonderful dancers engaged in Dance for PD and to join the efforts of the dedicated people at the Michael J. Fox Foundation who are so committed to finding a way to stop this disease in its tracks. It’s given me the opportunity to witness extraordinary accomplishments, like Bret Parker running 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents. It’s given me the chance to laugh with others … and to run really slow marathons with friends and family too. It’s given me the chance to be with people in times of great joy and in times of great sorrow. In the end it’s given me the opportunity to love and to be loved. There’s just no other word for it.

And I think this is because Parkinson’s gives us a community. And in a time of such bitter divisiveness, when the words “American community” seem like an oxymoron, being part of a community is no small thing. Because as a community we can do extraordinary things, not only for those living with Parkinson’s but our larger community as well. Because Parkinson’s asks not only what we’re going to do now but who we’re going to become.
I will always be so profoundly grateful for the great gift of being here with all of you, my friends and family and dearest colleagues. Thank you for that gift and for the opportunity to have this moment in New York City with my wife Lynn. And so, to everyone here, my Parkinson’s community, my deepest and heartfelt thanks."



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