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12th Annual Parkinson's Unity Walk Raises Funds for Parkinson's Research While Offering a Day of Community, Education, and Fun
- May 18 2006
"This crowd is astounding," exclaimed Michelle Charlesworth, ABC-TV news media anchorwoman and master of ceremonies as she addressed the attendees of the 12th annual Parkinson's Unity Walk, held under sunny skies on Saturday, April 29th, in New York City's Central Park. The crowd in the annual Parkinson's Unity Walk has been growing since 1994, when Margot Zobel founded the Walk to raise awareness of Parkinson's disease and funds for Parkinson's research. "There were only 200 people walking that day- but we felt we were making history. We raised $16,000, and, as we had pledged, every penny was turned over to research."
Since then, the Unity Walk has built upon the success of each previous year, increasing Parkinson's awareness, and much-needed funds for research making it the largest annual event for Parkinson's disease. Saturday's crowd, estimated at over 10,000 people, has raised over 1.3 million dollars. And, as pledged since the inception of the Walk, every penny raised continues to go directly to Parkinson's research. This is made possible through the Unity Walk's generous corporate sponsors, including its premier sponsor, Boehringer Ingelheim, and other corporate sponsors including Medtronic, Inc., Novartis, and Schwarz Pharma.
Prior to beginning the Walk, the crowd gathered around "Fund the Cure Boulevard." The participants took advantage of the Ask the Doctor Booth, PDtrials, presenting the latest information on clinical trials, and the major U.S. foundations and corporate sponsorís booths provided education on Parkinsonís disease and drug therapies. Additional excitement grew each time Jim Cantore from The Weather Channel conducted a live interview.
At 12:00, the vast crowd gathered in the stage area as Michelle Charlesworth introduced a panel of speakers. Martin Tuchman, Chairman of the Unity Walk, read from a proclamation from Mayor Michael Bloomberg declaring it Parkinson's Unity Walk Day. Janet Reno, former U.S. Attorney General made a heartfelt speech, Muhammad Ali's daughter, Maryum "May May" Ali, dazzled the audience with charm and her special poem. Margot Zobel, Founder of the Unity Walk, was greeted with a standing ovation from both the audience and the speakers on stage.
The Honorable Carolyn B. Maloney, Founder and Chair of The Congressional Working Group on Parkinson's disease, and Amy Comstock, Chief Executive Officer of the Parkinson's Action Network, both gave passionate speeches interrupted several times by applause. The Alan Bonander Humanitarian Award was presented to Bob Benjamin for his exceptional work in the Parkinson's community. Michelle Charlesworth then introduced actor Michael J. Fox. The crowd reacted with thunderous applause as he passionately spoke about Parkinson's and the importance of the Unity Walk.
After a raffle drawing and announcement of the top teams, the checkered flags were raised to mark the start of the Walk beginning at approximately 1:00 p.m. at the bandshell in Central Park near 72nd Street. Thousands of people, including more than 300 teams, walked the relaxing, wheelchair-accessible, 2-mile circular path under blue skies, sunshine, and gentle breezes. Walkers were greeted at the finish line by a continuation of the morning's festivities and music by Light of Day All-Stars.
All funds raised from the Walk are designated for research and will be distributed among the major U.S. Parkinson's disease foundations, including the American Parkinson Disease Association, the National Parkinson Foundation, The Parkinson Alliance, Parkinson's Disease Foundation, Parkinson's Institute, Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, and Parkinson's Action Network.
Parkinson's disease is a gradual neurodegenerative disease that affects more than one million Americans. To find out more about Parkinson's disease and the Walk, please contact the Parkinson's Unity Walk (toll free) at 1-866-PUW-WALK (1-866-789-9255) or, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or Web: www.unitywalk.org.
Source Date: May 18 2006