CONGRATULATIONS TO KENNETH AIDEKMAN, RECIPIENT OF THE 2021 ALAN BONANDER AWARD
Kenneth “Ken” Aidekman is a co-founder of the Parkinson’s Unity Walk. His passion and commitment to Parkinson’s awareness and education propelled us to our first walk in 1994; with 200 walkers we raised $16,000. The Unity Walk has grown tremendously over the past 27 years. Prior to the pandemic, the Unity Walk welcomed over 10,000 walkers and raised more than $1,500,000 annually. In 27 years we have raised over $27 million, and 100% of donations continue to support Parkinson’s disease research.
Ken’s vision has helped to make the walk what it is today. For the first Unity Walk, he asked a trustee if her doctor would join us in Central Park to answer questions. That creative thinking and commitment to shared information and education have blossomed into an annual walk tradition: the Ask the Healthcare Experts booth. Now with a minimum of ten healthcare specialists, the booth is a great service to our Parkinson’s community, answering questions for people with Parkinson’s and their families. Even in a virtual year, this resource lives on as a Q&A with questions submitted by our community members.
In the early days of the Walk, Ken wore many hats, assisting with whatever needed to get done. He would arrive in his car, stocked with scissors, scotch tape, and endless miscellaneous supplies to help with Walk Day set up. As the walk expanded, we hired an expo services firm, enabling Ken to focus on higher-level ways to support and promote the Unity Walk. He turned his focus to hiring entertainment, started a team in our Founder’s name and another team in his father’s name. He was always strategizing, brainstorming, and exploring new ways to expand the reach and impact of the Unity Walk. And in 2021, Ken’s team was the top team for fundraising during Team Week; his commitment and effort only seem to grow with the years!
Ken has been a part of the Parkinson’s community for decades. He supported both his father and grandfather through their disease journeys and was diagnosed himself two years ago.
Ken is a very quiet and humble person. He would never boast about all that he has done for our community. Lucky for us, awarding him the 2021 Alan Bonander Award allows us the opportunity to celebrate his accomplishments and praise his many achievements.
A little-known fact, the Alan Bonander Award was Ken’s idea some years ago. He believed so much in the work that Alan did for the community and wanted to recognize and remember him in a special way. Ken has continued Alan’s legacy and commitment to finding answers to questions for our community members.
Awarding Ken the 2021 Alan Bonander Award is a full-circle moment and one that would bring Alan great pride and joy. Many congratulations and thanks to Ken for all that he has done. We are grateful for you and excited for all that you will continue to do for the Parkinson’s community.