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PDF in the News

Tech Student to Run Marathon to Support Parkinsonís Research

By Rebecca Robertson

This Sunday, Virginia Tech senior Jessie Gunter will live out Ut Prosim by running in the Marine Corps Marathon to raise awareness about Parkinson’s disease.

Gunter, a 22-year-old international studies major, will be running with a four-member team to raise money for the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. This organization aims to fund research for a cure and increase awareness about the disease, as well as provide support for individuals living with Parkinson’s Disease.

Gunter has been personally affected by the illness because her father was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s disease more than years ago. As of now, no cure exists for the neurological disorder and no medication is available to halt its progression.

Gunter and her teammates connected with one another through the PDF Champions program, which helps volunteers get involved with fundraising efforts.

“I’ve never met them before, but we all have in common that we’ve been profoundly affected by Parkinson’s,” Gunter said.

Kelly Bresnahan, PDF’s Senior Development Coordinator for Events, runs the PDF Champions program.

“We’re here to support volunteers’ fundraisers in any way we can,” Bresnahan said. “We offer support any time they need it.”

Bresnahan is enthusiastic about the team that has been put in place and proud of their efforts thus far.

“We have four marathoners running. They’re from all over the country, which is fantastic," she said. "We have a collection of people and they all have a personal connection with Parkinson’s disease, so they’re all very excited for this weekend.”

The team originally pledged to raise $10,000 collectively for PDF. Gunter hoped to raise $2,000 individually. However, she and her teammates have already far exceeded their original fundraising goals.

“My fundraising goal is now $15,000. I’ve already gotten to about $12,000, so hopefully in these next couple of days I can meet my goal,” Gunter said.

Bresnahan said of the team, “They’ve collectively raised over $18,000 for the foundation and are still fundraising, so we hope that we will exceed $20,000. They will be fundraising after the event as well.”

The 37th annual marathon on Oct. 28 will stretch for 26.2 miles through Northern Virginia and Washington DC. This will be Gunter’s first time ever running a marathon, and she is excited about the challenge and potential future opportunities.

“In terms of running I am not necessarily focusing on a goal time. I’m just hoping to stay strong throughout the marathon and complete the race,” Gunter said. “I’m a little nervous but really excited — I’m ready for it to be race day.”

“Assuming this race goes well, I think there’s potential for future races and fundraising efforts through running,” Gunter said. “It’s something that I would recommend to people who enjoy running or exercising and it’s a great way to raise awareness and raise money.”

Gunter is also enjoying her first experience working with PDF.

“I’d like to be more involved in the future, they seem to be a really great organization,” Gunter said.

She hopes to stay connected with PDF by attending seminars or webinars offered by the organization about the ongoing research efforts for Parkinson’s.

Overall, this event has been a very influential experience for Gunter, and she encourages other students to get involved with raising funds and awareness for causes that are important to them.

“When someone you love is affected by a disease, I think it’s really important to show continued support for them and to garner the support of friends and family to make sure they know that you’re thinking of them, supporting them, and honoring them” Gunter said. "The race has also provided me with the opportunity to try to help contribute to future research efforts so that maybe people won’t have to live with this disease in the future."

To those looking for ways to get involved, Gunter said “contacting friends and family and soliciting their support is very effective because people have a personal connection with what you’re experiencing.”

Bresnahan similarly encourages people to get involved with a cause they care about.

“Anyone can make a difference," she said. "Everyone can find something that works best for them and contribute in some way.” 

Source Date: Oct 25 2012
Source Publication: Collegiate Times
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