“I lost my mother to Parkinson's disease. PDF is not only helping to save lives, but also giving hope to those family members who have to watch their loved ones suffer. I am overjoyed to know there are people out there working day in and day out to find a cure."
PDF Champion Chad Moir
Champions in Action
PDF is grateful to our Champions for making PDF their charity of choice. We are also inspired by their personal stories and dedication to Parkinson's research. What are they up to? Browse some of their stories below by type of event, or find and support a current PDF Champion.
Lucy Kiefer, 9, and her brother, Jack, 5, hosted their second annual Lemonade Stand for Parkinson’s in Walnut Creek, CA, during July 2014 raising more than $119 for PDF.
They were inspired to organize the lemonade stand in honor of their father who lives with Parkinson’s. With help from their grandparents, they printed 50 flyers to distribute in the community to help promote the event.
“We are so proud of Lucy and Jack. They hosted the stand at our senior living community, and it has really brought our neighbors together for a wonderful afternoon for the cause. It’s a highlight for our family because it gives the children a sense of power over Parkinson’s,” says their grandmother Diana Clark.
Mid-Hudson Valley Support Group Raises More than $10,000 at Fourth Annual Walk
The Parkinson's Support Group of the Mid-Hudson Valley, led by Chairwoman Nancy Redkey, raised more than $10,000 for PDF this Parkinson's Awareness Month. Their fourth annual "Walk Over Water," held on April 27, 2014, in the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park in Poughkeepsie, NY, featured free educational materials, Parkinson's awareness materials and activities for children. New York State Senator Terry Gipson presented a proclamation declaring April Parkinson's Awareness Month in NY and recognized the support group's efforts. The support group has raised nearly $55,000 for PDF in the last four years from the walk and their annual letter writing campaign.
"Parkinson's doesn't just pick a family perfectly suited to dealing with the disease. It knows no favorites. The rich, the poor, scientists, bus drivers; Parkinson's can strike anyone. We all need to be involved to find a cure," said Ms. Redkey on organizing the event.
Family Hosts Third Annual Parkinson’s Walk for a Cure in Memory of Father
Teresa Riffle of Circleville, OH, and her community raised more than $2,000 at the Third Annual Walk for a Cure at East Pointe Property in Circleville on April 26, 2014.
Ms. Riffle, 55, is a retired Circleville City Schools’ speech language pathologist. With support from her husband Steve and her mother Ruth Anne, she founded the event in 2012 in memory of her late father and father-in-law who both lived with Parkinson’s disease. The walk is scheduled on the last weekend of Parkinson’s Awareness Month to also coincide with her late father’s birthday.
“Our goal for this year was to raise at least $2,000 to benefit research through PDF as well as raise awareness of Parkinson's disease in our community. My family witnessed the debilitating progression of Parkinson’s in my father and father-in-law. It is our prayer that research provides answers for prevention, a cure, or more effective ways of slowing the progression of the disease,” says Ms. Riffle.
PDF Research Advocates Host Garage Sale in IN for Parkinson’s
PDF Research Advocates Mary Yeaman of Indianapolis, IN, and Linda Hinkle of Noblesville, IN, teamed up to host a two-day garage sale for Parkinson’s Awareness Month in April 2014. By selling their household items and treasures, they raised more than $1,200 for PDF. They also answered questions about Parkinson’s disease.
“One person who had Parkinson’s disease came to the garage sale and said he had never talked to anyone else with Parkinson’s before. The more we talked to him and shared information about local resources, the more he smiled because he finally was speaking to someone who understood how he felt. This made all the work setting up the garage sale worth it,” says Ms. Yeaman.
Abingdon Knights of Columbus and PDF Research Advocate in MD Raise $3,100
The Knights of Columbus, Father Maurice J. Wolfe Council 11372, in Abingdon, MD, hosted a benefit dinner in February 2014 to raise more than $3,100 for PDF. The dinner featured a silent auction and casino games.
The local Knights of Columbus council, including organizer Jeff Gutowski, were inspired to host the benefit in honor of a fellow member who lives with Parkinson’s disease. PDF Research Advocate Cliff Ishmael of Bel Air, MD, was invited to speak to the more than 70 guests about the disease.
“Cliff did a great job in his talk bringing the disease down to a real level. It was important for us to not only raise funds but help spread awareness, as many people may not realize the struggles that people with Parkinson’s have and the ways they can help make a difference,” said Mr. Gutowski.
PDF Board Member Stephanie Goldman-Pittel, along with her event Co-chairs Doug Stern and Amy Sole, shined a spotlight on the Parkinson’s cause, raising more than $20,000 at their Tequila & Tapas event held on January 22, 2014, at Harvest Bistro and Bar in Closter, NJ.
The evening was a warm gathering of family, friends and community members from across Bergen County. More than 75 guests enjoyed a special tasting of select Patrón tequilas, gourmet hors d'oeuvre stations and a silent auction.
“With every dollar raised, we support the nearly one million people in the US, including my father, who live with Parkinson’s,” said Mrs. Goldman-Pittel. “I am grateful to my family, friends and those in the community who attended Tequila & Tapas for helping to move PDF one step closer to a cure.”
12-Year-Old Hosts Pasta for Parkinson's, Raises $2,000
Sierra Verdin of San Lorenzo, CA, rang the dinner bell and hosted Pasta for Parkinson's on April 6, 2013 in honor of her grandfather who lives with the disease. The 12-year-old raised more than $2,000 for PDF by selling tickets for the dinner and raffle, which featured prizes donated by local businesses.
After watching how Parkinson's limited her grandfather's activity outside of his home, she was inspired to organize a benefit in his honor.
"I just want my Papa to know that people do support him and love him. He is very fun and exciting. I think there are many people just like him who feel pent up in their homes because living with Parkinson's makes them feel nervous or uneasy about doing everyday things like me and you," says Ms. Verdin.
Hailey Salha, 11, and her sister, Taylor, 9, of Modesto, CA hosted a lemonade stand, raising $60 for PDF. The sisters participated in Modesto's Lemonade Day, a communitywide educational event which encourages children to give back.
The following is a letter received by PDF.
June 7, 2013
To the Parkinson's Disease Foundation,
My sister and I earned money on Lemonade Day and would like to donate it in honor of our grandfather, Herman Salha who is living with Parkinson's disease.
Hailey and Taylor Salha
And very proud parents, Grant and Elizabeth Salha
Gene Ginsberg, M.D., a seasonal resident of Sarasota, FL, performed a piano recital on March 7, 2015, for friends at Piano Distributors in Sarasota, raising more than $3,389 to benefit PDF.
Dr. Ginsberg, 69, a retired geriatric physician, has lived with Parkinson’s since 2006. He was inspired to use his passion for piano for the Parkinson’s cause and organize a concert at his local piano store where he receives lessons. Dr. Ginsberg welcomed 74 guests and played a variety of classical, pop and jazz pieces for over an hour.
“My goal was to entertain but also show others what a person with Parkinson's can do with a little perseverance and ‘give back’ to PDF, an organization that has helped me through it's mission of education and research. I hope to increase awareness and encourage more dialogue about this disease,” says Dr. Ginsberg.
PDF Creativity Artist Dusty Harrington-Collins, 73, of Port Orford, OR, used his paintbrush to make a difference. The artist hosted a sale of his original pastel paintings at the Baycrest Village in the summer of 2014, raising more than $620 for PDF.
Mr. Harrington-Collins, a retired Army veteran, has been living with Parkinson’s since 2008. His pastel painting “To Be Alone,” was selected to appear in PDF’s 2014 Creativity and Parkinson’s Calendar. The positive response he received from his community inspired him to help make a difference.
“I am proud to be able to help PDF fund Parkinson’s research and education by sharing my artwork with others,” says Mr. Harrington-Collins. “Being a part of PDF’s Creativity Project means so much. When I’m painting, I’m not even thinking about Parkinson’s.”
See Dusty in the Media
Akshay and Bhavish Dinakar, students at Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, KS, are tuned in to fighting Parkinson’s disease. The brothers hosted a violin concert to benefit PDF at St. Anthony’s Church in Kansas City on June 13, 2014, in honor of Galia Sandomirsky, the wife of their longtime violin teacher Gregory. Mrs. Sandomirsky lives with Parkinson's disease.
More than 100 people attended the concert. The program included words from Mrs. Sandomirsky, and performances by Reverend Paul Turner on organ and Mr. Sandomirsky on violin. They raised $825 for PDF.
“Our teacher is like a part of our family. After his wife Galia was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, we wanted to shine a spotlight on this very important cause that strikes close to home for us,” said Akshay.
See the Dinakars in the Media
Visit Their Fundraising Page
Sandy Weakley of Ashland, VA, and the Dover Baptist Association hosted Stamping for a Cure on February 8, 2014. The crafty fundraiser raised $950 to benefit PDF. Nearly 30 guests attended and were invited to create three, paper crafting items or stamping projects. All craft supplies were donated. The event also displayed educational resources on Parkinson's and featured prizes and refreshments.
"This event is in honor of our friend Jelly Bean who was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s. We hope that a cure will be found soon," said Ms. Weakley.
PDF Champion David Eger, Ph.D., of White Plains, NY, continued a community tradition with the 11th Annual Music for Parkinson's Research Concert on December 8, 2013 in Rye, NY. More than 90 guests attended the afternoon of chamber music and poetry raising nearly $40,000 for research and shining a spotlight on the Parkinson’s cause.
This year, alongside chamber music, guests enjoyed a special poetry reading by Robin Morgan, an award-winning poet and author. The Attacca Quartet, an internationally acclaimed ensemble, returned to the stage with esteemed local musicians, clarinetist and event co-founder John Stine, Chappaqua, NY, and pianist Gena Raps, New York, NY.
Dr. Eger, a former PDF Board Member living with Parkinson’s, is the co-founder of Music for Parkinson's Research. The local volunteer group hosts the concert each year, which has raised nearly $500,000 for Parkinson’s research since inception.
“Music for Parkinson’s Research does a wonderful service to the community year after year by bringing together guests to share their love of the arts, while helping PDF to fund the most promising research to find a cure,” says PDF President Robin Elliott.
Challenge Your Campus
Wellesley Middle School Students Throw Pies for Parkinson's
Lexi Ashraf had the perfect recipe for success after her seventh grade teacher challenged her class to make a difference. Ms. Ashraf organized a Pies for Parkinson's event on February 6, 2015 at Wellesley Middle School in Wellesley, MA, raising $2,347 for PDF.
She was inspired to organize the event in memory of her grandfather who lived with the disease. The cause was also important to her teacher Andy Crowe, whose mother lives with Parkinson’s.
Ms. Ashraf and her fellow students challenged their teachers to take on Pies for Parkinson's. For every $100 raised, a “favorite” teacher took a pie to the face.
High School ROTC Navy Cadet Hosts 5K Run, Raises $2,200 for Parkinson’s Research
Colts Neck, NJ, high school student Kevin Wall rallied the troops to fight Parkinson’s disease. He raised more than $2,200 for PDF after hosting Run Hard or Go Home, a 5K run and walk at his Colts Neck High School on May 10, 2014.
Mr. Wall, 17, is Chief Petty Officer in the school’s Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC). He was inspired to organize the 5K in memory of a close family friend who lived with Parkinson’s for nearly 30 years.
“Kenneth Dunckley was a close friend of my family who I looked up to almost like a grandfather. It was sad to see him suffer with Parkinson’s and feel like there was nothing I could do about it. That’s why I hosted the 5K to keep his spirit alive and raise funds for PDF to help find a cure for Parkinson’s,” says Mr. Wall.
High School Student Dedicates Project to Parkinson's Awareness
Kate DeWitte of Washington, CT, spent 2013 educating her classmates at Shepaug Valley High School on Parkinson's disease for her requisite year-long senior project. The 18-year-old sold handmade snowflakes in the winter and hosted on-campus Zumba classes and a bake sale to raise more than $2,900.
After her father, Steve DeWitte (a PDF Research Advocate), was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson's disease in 2005, she had many questions about the disease and how it impacted their family. She saw her school project as the perfect venue to better educate herself and make a difference for others.
"When I started to see the progression of Parkinson's disease in my dad, I wished there was another kid just like me who understood what it felt like to go through the same thing. My primary motivation is to be a mentor for others my age and help with their understanding of Parkinson's," says Ms. DeWitte about her ongoing efforts.
Deirdre Murphy Cruz, a Staten Island, NY, native and her second grade class at Our Lady Help of Christians collected Pennies for Parkinson's in a jar throughout the month of April, 2013 and raised more than $400 to benefit PDF. The students also colored in tulips to hang in their classroom to raise awareness.
Because of connections to Parkinson's disease in her family, Mrs. Cruz was inspired to get her class involved in the cause.
"Parkinson's disease is one of those diseases you do not hear much about. I want to help any family I can by contributing as much as we can raise," said Mrs. Cruz.
The following is a letter received by PDF:
May 28, 2013
Dear Sir or Madame,
I would like to donate $52 to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation. As a fifth grader, I have been making potholders for Parkinson's as a school project at Deer Park Elementary in Owensboro, KY, to make our world a better place and help find a cure.
Giles Malieckal of Queens, NY, ran the Staten Island Half Marathon on October 12, 2014 raising $1,386 for PDF.
Mr. Malieckal, 34, is a mental health counselor and social worker. An avid runner, he was inspired to dedicate his first half marathon in memory of his late uncle who lived with Parkinson’s.
“My uncle struggled with Parkinson’s disease for more than seven years. It is important to me to not only raise funds, but also raise awareness for things that may not be getting enough attention, like Parkinson’s. I hope that by testing myself physically in this race, I will help PDF fund research and educate others on what people with PD are struggling with everyday,” says Mr. Malieckal.
Rachel Isenberg of Philadelphia, PA, is reaching new heights in the fight against Parkinson’s disease. She raised $4,259 for PDF after hiking to the top of Half Dome, which raises 4,800 feet high in Yosemite National Park in CA, on August 26, 2014.
Taking on physical challenges for charity has become a summer tradition for Ms. Isenberg. The English language instructor and tennis professional has now raised more than $20,000 for PDF since 2008 to honor her mother who lives with the disease. Her physical endeavors include a 438-mile bike ride across Pennsylvania, a half marathon, a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro and a 468-mile bike ride across Iowa. The cause is especially close to her heart as her late grandfather also lived with Parkinson's.
"These summer challenges for Parkinson’s have truly become a part of my life; each one, a goal filled with adventure, friendships, meaning and fun. This challenge takes me back to Yosemite, a magical and powerful place I first visited with my family as a kid. It is a chance to challenge myself, contribute to this cause and build community."
Hamilton College Student Runs Half Marathon in Honor of Grandfather
Hamilton College student, Benjamin Fields of Seattle, WA, ran 13.1 miles in the Turning Stone Half Marathon in Verona, NY, on August 24, 2014. He raised $485 for PDF to honor his grandfather, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s a few years ago.
“After watching my grandfather struggle with Parkinson’s, I feel like nobody should have to suffer like that. It’s so painful to watch a mind stay intact while a body refuses to respond. This is just the first of hopefully many races I will run to raise money for PDF to help fight Parkinson’s and raise awareness about its impact on families and individuals,” says Mr. Fields.
Speech Therapist Runs First Marathon in Honor of Father and Brother-in-Law
Angie Seiberlich, of Mahtomedi, MN, and her boyfriend, Bruce Kammen, of Inver Grove Heights, MN, ran 26.2 miles in Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth on June 21, 2014. They raised $2,180 to benefit PDF.
“My dad and my brother-in-law were diagnosed with Parkinson’s within months of each other. When you have loved ones living with this disease and you want them around as long as possible, you have to find ways to get involved as much as you can. The only way to find the cure is to help raise money for research,” says Ms. Seiberlich.
Her sister Libbe and her brother-in-law, Kim Erickson of Stillwater, MN, already volunteer as PDF Research Advocates. Ms. Seiberlich, a pediatric speech therapist, was inspired by their efforts to take on her first full marathon for the cause. Mr. Kammen, a veteran marathoner and close family friend, dedicated his 30th marathon to make a difference in her family’s honor.
Family Hosts Pucks for Parkinson’s Fundraiser in MA in Memory of Father
Lynne Dietenhofer of Abington, MA, and her family, took a slapshot at Parkinson’s this April in recognition of Parkinson’s Awareness Month. They hosted “Pucks for Parkinson’s” at the Knights of Columbus in Abington on April 12, 2014 and raised more than $5,000 to benefit PDF. The event featured a buffet dinner, live music, dancing, a silent auction and several types of raffle prizes, including sports memorabilia.
Ms. Dietenhofer, her brother Scott and her sister-in-law Julie, were inspired to organize the hockey-themed dinner in memory of her late father George, who was an avid fan of the sport. They say their experiences as his care partners especially motivated them to help make a difference for others affected by the disease.
“It broke my heart a little more each day witnessing the effects of Parkinson’s disease on my father, who had a heart of gold and was nicknamed ‘The Gentle Giant,’” says Ms. Dietenhofer. “If we can raise awareness and funds to help find a cure for Parkinson’s disease so that other people don't have to go through what George did, then we have been successful.”
See the Dietenhofers in the Media
Chad Moir of Seymour, CT, raised more than $5,000 after running the 2014 New York City Half Marathon on March 16, 2014 in memory of his late mother who lived with young onset Parkinson’s disease.
“My mother struggled with symptoms for many years before she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. By raising money in her honor, I hope that I can make a difference in someone else’s life with Parkinson’s and spread more awareness about the disease,” says Mr. Moir.
Atlanta, GA resident Eric Young swam more than five and a half miles across Lake Belle Taine in Nevis, MN on July 6, 2013 in memory of his late mother, Barbara Vandergraft, who lived with Parkinson’s for more than 27 years. He surpassed his initial fundraising goal and raised $7,000 to benefit PDF.
Mr. Young, 40, a native of Rosemount, MN, works as a manager of charter flights with Delta Airlines. He and his mother spent much time together at their family’s cabin on Lake Belle Taine, which has stood since 1902. After watching how Parkinson’s disease affected his mother and limited her mobility, he was motivated to make a difference.
“Parkinson’s is a dreadful disease. The name isn’t out there as much as other diseases but the effects are just as devastating,” says Mr. Young. “No one has ever swum the entire lake before and knowing the special connection my mom had with our cabin and the lake, I wanted to be the first to do it in her name to hopefully find a cure and raise awareness of Parkinson’s.”
Softball Teams Pitch in for Parkinson's Awareness Month
The Port Jervis High School, NY and Delaware Valley High School, PA, varsity softball teams pitched in to help those living with Parkinson's. The teams squared off in a non-league game in Port Jervis, NY on April 9, 2013 and raised more than $2,200 for PDF.
The cause hits close to home for both teams' head coaches. Port Jervis' Coach John Faggione's late father lived with Parkinson's for more than 15 years. Meanwhile, his longtime friendly rival Mr. Matz, head coach of the Delaware Valley Warriors, was touched by Parkinson's through this late mother-in-law who lived with the disease.
"I think it's important for our players to understand the value of doing community events like this to give back. As coaches, we're not only instructing about our sport, we're also teaching life lessons" said Mr. Faggione.
Two-Time PDF Champion Living with PD Hikes Across Grand Canyon
Jennifer Neathery of Huntsville, AL, has been dedicated to Parkinson's advocacy efforts since her diagnosis of young onset Parkinson's disease seven years ago at the age of 32. Having already jumpstarted a local support group and run a marathon last year to raise funds for PDF, she decided to take on another physical challenge: hiking more than 40 miles across the Grand Canyon from rim to rim in Tusayan, AZ.
She completed the hike on April 8, 2013 and raised more than $1,100 for PDF.
"With my 40th birthday on the horizon, I thought what better way to advocate for Parkinson's disease research and inspire others to get involved and do whatever they can to help?" said Ms. Neathery.
Cody Ledsworth, of Muskegon, MI, a student at Western Michigan University, kayaked across the 216-mile Muskegon River over the course of six days in May 2013 in honor of his grandmother who lives with Parkinson's disease. His efforts raised more than $2,600 for PDF, surpassing his initial $500 goal.
"Seeing my grandma and how my grandfather takes care of her, made me realize that I should dedicate my Muskegon River kayaking trip to benefit Parkinson's research, awareness and help for caregivers," says Mr. Ledsworth on his motivation.
Church Hosts Memorial 5K Run for Parkinson's Research in Honor of Deacon
Ellenwood, GA, resident Peggy Sensabaugh and the First Baptist Church of Ellenwood hosted the Josh Faircloth Memorial 5K Run to benefit PDF on November 10, 2012. Nearly 50 runners participated in the run, which helped raise more than $700. Ms. Sensabaugh, along with a dedicated team of family and friends organized the 5K run in memory of the late Mr. Faircloth, a founding member and ordained deacon of the Church, to raise awareness about the disease he battled.
Mr. Faircloth's widow, Dot Faircloth, remarks, "Josh endured the challenge of Parkinson's disease with courage, grace and dignity. We are very proud to have been blessed with him as a husband, father and grandfather. We are truly humbled to have a memorial 5K Run in his honor to help others who are touched by Parkinson's."
North Canton, OH resident Patricia Stalder asked her community to take a swing at Parkinson's disease. She hosted the First Annual Barr-Stalder Golf Outing at the Arrowhead Golf Club in North Canton on June 22, 2013. The event, which also featured 18 holes of golf and a pool party, raised $3,000 for PDF.
Mrs. Stalder, 36, is the founder of Live, Laugh, Give Charities, which holds events to support various causes. After her mother was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson's disease last year at the age of 55, Mrs. Stalder was motivated to direct her organization's efforts toward a very personal cause.
"That day when my mother was diagnosed, my family felt our world was ending. Organizing this event gives me a way to honor my mother's struggle with this disease. I want to do all I can to help other families who feel like their world is ending," she says.
Business Owner Sells Hoagies for Parkinson’s in Honor of Mother
Niraj Patel of Lancaster, PA, is using his business to make a difference by inviting the community to enjoy Hoagies for Parkinson’s at his New Holland Exxon store to benefit PDF. During May and June 2014, 50 cents of each hoagie sandwich sold will benefit PDF in honor of Mr. Patel’s mother who lives with the disease.
“I come across many people and family members who don’t understand Parkinson’s, the symptoms or how a person feels. This inspires me to raise more awareness in my community and fundraise for PDF to help find a cure someday,” says Mr. Patel.
Empanada Guy Restaurant in NJ Sells Empanadas for Parkinson's
Lisa Paillex Griffin, of Franklin Park, NJ, and Empanada Guy Restaurant in Freehold invited the community to enjoy Empanadas for Parkinson’s. Fifteen percent of any purchases made at the restaurant, during April’s Parkinson’s Awareness Month through May, benefitted PDF in honor of Ms. Paillex Griffin’s parents.
“Both my mom, and most recently my dad, were diagnosed with Parkinson’s. I have been committed to doing as much as I can to make a difference for others affected by this disease and raising awareness. Whether it’s by wearing a pin, posting something online, or working with my friend’s business to help raise funds, it’s important to get involved, ” says Ms. Paillex Griffin.
Off-Roading Business Owner Hosts Second Annual Shake, Rattle and Crawl Event for Parkinson’s Awareness Month
Dawn Judson of San Antonio, TX, and her company Bikini Offroad hosted the second annual "Shake, Rattle and Crawl" at Hidden Falls Adventure Park in Marble Falls, TX, on April 12, 2014. Participants drove the scenic trails and hills in their ATVs, jeeps, motorcycles and trucks. The outdoor, four-wheeling event raised more than $8,200 for PDF and featured a scavenger hunt, a raffle and dinner.
Ms. Judson organized the benefit in honor of her late father-in-law, John Judson, who lived with Parkinson’s.
“John was a loving husband, father of three children and grandfather of five grandchildren. He was a great man that did not let Parkinson’s disease define who he was. We would like to help in any way we can by hosting this event every year to raise funds for this great charity,” says Ms. Judson.