By Chris Jordan
April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month and the Highland Park-based Light of Day Foundation is spreading the world — and the dollars — in the fight against Parkinson’s Disease.
The Light of Day’s Bob Benjamin, Joe D’Urso and Tony Pallagrosi presented a $100,000 check on Wednesday, April 26 to John L. Lehr and Robin Elliot of the Parkinson’s Foundation for research initiatives in the fight against the disease at the Foundation headquarters in New York City. The majority of the money was raised at the Light of Day Winterfest, which took place in January in Asbury Park.
“We’ve been working with and supporting the great work of the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, now called the Parkinson’s Foundation, for 18 years and have contributed in excess of $1 million to specific research initiatives during that time,” said Pallagrosi, the executive director of the Light of Day. “Robin Elliot, their CEO Emeritus, has been a great friend and mentor to our organization. His wisdom and experience have been very helpful to us along the way. I’m humbled and honored to be a small part of the quest to defeat Parkinson’s as well as ALS and PSP in our lifetime.”
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects nearly one million people in the United States and over 10 million worldwide, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation. Parkinson’s is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s and is the 14th leading cause of death in the US.
The Light of Day began in Red Bank in 1998 as a 40th birthday party for Benjamin, the manager for rocker Joe Grushecky. The first official Light of Day took place in 2000 at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park and has been held in Asbury Park and Sayreville since, with shows in Europe and Canada, too. Bruce Springsteen is associated with the Light of Day cause as he’s performed in 11 of the past 17 Light of Day festivals.
The Light of Day Foundation also raises money to fight the similar disorders ALS, known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and PSP, or progressive supranuclear palsy. In December, the group donated $20,000 check to Joan Dancy and PALS, a Jersey Shore-based organization dedicated to improving the lives of ALS patients and their families in Monmouth and Ocean counties. Joan Dancy and PALS was founded by long time Springsteen personal assistant Terry Magovern, who was also a supporter of the Light of Day Foundation.
So far, the Light of Day had raised more than $4.5 million in the cause.