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Around and About the Community

PDF's Second Copa Benefit a Success!

On March 16, New York City's legendary Copacabana nightclub served, for the second time in two years, as the venue for an effort by the Parkinson's Disease Foundation (PDF) to achieve two fundamental goals: to increase awareness of Parkinson's disease, especially among young professionals in the metropolitan area, and to raise funds for Parkinson's research. PDF is proud to report that both goals were met at the Second Annual Benefit at the Copa, where some 500 guests helped to raise more than $200,000!

Newcomers mingled with second-year attendees to enjoy an evening that included a live and silent auction, dancing, casino games and more. As has now become tradition, Peter Dorn, co-owner of the Copa, played the elegant host, welcoming the crowd and reminding everyone why it is so important to support Parkinson's research. The spectacular energy of the crowd was the measure of what happens when you combine good works with having a good time!

The talented and impressive volunteer steering committee, headed by event co-chairs Peter Dorn, Doug Stern, Robin Rogers, Steve Seisser and Sharon Klein, joins PDF in thanking the many people who helped make this event a success. This group would particularly like to thank GDO Soul, the rocking band that kept the dance floor packed; our gracious emcee Bruce Beck and of course the friends, corporate sponsors and the many companies whose contributions made the auctions and raffle so wonderful. Special thanks are also extended to the anonymous friend of PDF who generously donated a matching gift of $100,000 to substantially increase the night's proceeds of $116,000, for a gross total of $216,000.

We hope to see everyone at the Copa in November 2006 to make the third time a charm!

PDF Presents Movement Disorders Research Award to Dr. Mark Hallett

For the past five years, PDF has teamed up with the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) in sponsoring the Academy's Movement Disorders Research Award. This award is presented at AAN's annual meeting to a scientist who best represents the ideals of involvement in scientific research, clinical care of patients and training of younger colleagues.

This year, PDF Executive Director Robin Elliott introduced Ira Shoulson, M.D., of the Parkinson Study Group in Rochester, NY, who in turn presented the award to Mark Hallett, M.D., Senior Investigator and Chief of the Human Motor Control Section at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Dr. Hallett is the former chief of the Clinical Neurophysiology Laboratory at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and has also served as an associate professor of neurology at the renowned Harvard Medical School.

With the assistance of his research team at NINDS, Dr. Hallett uses neuroimaging and other types of technology, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation, to determine how the brain prepares for and executes movement in people who have diseases such as Parkinson's. Included in his studies is examination of brain plasticity in relation to dystonia, a topic of his lecture.

Advocacy Highlighted at 2005 Udall Dinner Awards

The Parkinson's Action Network (PAN) welcomed leaders and supporters in the Parkinson's community to the 12th Annual Morris K. Udall Awards, in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, April 13. Each year, PAN takes this opportunity to thank and honor the exemplary leaders dedicated to finding a cure for this disease. Two of these leaders - Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) - received the prestigious Morris K. Udall Awards for 2005. The Parkinson's Disease Foundation (PDF) is a long-time supporter of PAN, with a grant in the current year of $150,000.

Both honorees gave remarks that filled the crowd with inspiration and pride. Senator Hatch - a principled conservative - shared his personal experience of changing his position on the issue of federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, from opposition to support. Rep. Maloney, the first female to receive a Udall Award, spoke eloquently about her leadership role in the Congressional Working Group on Parkinson's Disease, which she co-founded in 1999.

After honoring members of Congress, PAN went on to highlight the works of exemplary Parkinson's advocates. Margaret Tuchman, founder of the Parkinson Alliance, was presented with The Buddy Levenson Award for Enduring Spirit. The award recognized Ms. Tuchman's extraordinary contributions to the Parkinson's community as a leader, along with her husband Martin, of The Parkinson Alliance and the Parkinson's Unity Walk.

Another highlight of the evening was the speech by Peggy Willocks, of Tennessee, recipient of The Milly Kondracke Award for Outstanding Advocacy. This was the first time that the award was presented since Milly's death in July 2004, and to commemorate her spirit, a short video of highlights from the CBS-TV movie Saving Milly was shown by her husband, PAN Board member Mort Kondracke (this video will soon be available to order through PAN; visit www.parkinsonsaction.org for more information). Speaking on behalf of advocates around the world, Peggy explained how essential advocacy work is - whether it be with national PD organizations, support groups or government - in the fight to cure Parkinson's, a viewpoint that the late and beloved Milly shared.

Unity Walk Raises More than $1 Million

On Saturday, April 16, 8,500 people from around the country (and Canada!) gathered in New York City's Central Park for the 11th Annual Parkinson's Unity Walk. The largest crowd to date cheered when walk organizers announced the astounding attendance and the record-breaking funds that walkers had raised: more than $1 million!

This news hardly came as a surprise as people had been pouring into the "Find a Cure Boulevard" since 10 AM to be met by a shining sun, rocking music and a street full of informational booths staffed by patient groups, corporations and other well-wishers. At 12:30 PM, spirits soared as leaders of the Parkinson's community addressed the crowd. To kick things off, Martin Tuchman, Chairman of the Unity Walk, read a proclamation from NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg declaring April 16, 2005 Parkinson's Unity Walk Day. Margot Zobel, who founded the Unity Walk more than a decade ago, was greeted with a heartfelt standing ovation from both the audience and the other speakers on stage.

Following these leaders were John Cottingham and Barbara Patterson, who were honored with the Alan Bonander Humanitarian Award for their exceptional work in creating and maintaining the Parkinson's Information Exchange Network Online (PIENO), a popular listserv and forum for the Parkinson's community to exchange thoughts, tips and advice.

Among those rallying the troops were the commanding Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), a long-time congressional champion of Parkinson's; the engaging May May Ali (daughter of Muhammad Ali); the passionate and charismatic Joan Samuelson (founder of the Parkinson's Action Network) and Michael J. Fox, whose light touch and ever-present charm concluded the speeches and sent the walkers on their way.

All of the proceeds of the Unity Walk are designated for research and will be distributed among the major U.S.-based Parkinson's disease foundations, including PDF. Last year, PDF alone received some $80,000 from the Walk to be dedicated to research programs.