Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Join the fight on Giving Tuesday!

As we all give thanks at this time of year, we remind ourselves for what, and for whom, we are thankful.  PDF is grateful now and always for our many supporters, volunteers, advocates and PDF Champions who are making a difference in the fight against Parkinson’s.  We could not do our work without these individuals who raise awareness and funds in their communities.

PDF's programs seek to empower the community to be proactive in making a difference in the cause.  One way we do this is by providing loved ones, family and friends with tools to raise awareness in their communities and raise funds through our grassroots fundraising program, PDF Champions.

Join us on this #GivingTuesday, by becoming a PDF Champion.  #GivingTuesday is a nationwide campaign to get individuals to give back to charity during the holiday season, and PDF is happy to be involved!

Our PDF Champions have made a difference in the fight against Parkinson's by raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for research.  People with Parkinson’s disease and their children have run marathons and triathlons and biked across Ohio and Alaska.  Grandchildren have set up lemonade stands and pancake breakfasts.  Husbands and wives have organized educational events.  No matter the size or scope of these events, they all highlight what #GivingTuesday is all about: giving back and making a difference in the lives of others.

Here is one of our PDF Champions in action! 11-year old Lauren Blum of Winchester, VA held a Zumbathon and raised over $1,000 for Parkinson's research.

How can you meet the example of Lauren and other inspiring PDF Champions?  How can you join them in raising the bar of grassroots community involvement?  You can donate your time.  Volunteer at an event or create one.  Re-tweet something you find inspiring.  Post information about PDF on your Facebook page.  Make this year’s holiday party a benefit for Parkinson's research –  become a PDF Champion!

As our PDF Champions have shown us, one person, one act of giving, can make a difference.

For more information about how you can participate in #GivingTuesday by fundraising for PDF, follow us @PDFChampions and @PDFParkinson, like our Facebook page, email us at info@pdf.org or call (800) 457-6676.

Happy Holidays!

The Cure Begins With You

How Will You Get an Early Start to Parkinson's Awareness Month, April 2013?

Are you planning yet for April 2013? Sounds pretty early to plan for spring, but several months ago, PDF asked the community how we could better support you during April's Parkinson's Awareness Month 2013.

You all had the same answer ... start earlier!

April calendar image

So, we are taking your advice. Today, we sent you an e-newsletter, letting you know about ways that you can plan now to make a difference next April.

Our tips include ordering free supplies now, planning an event, entering the t-shirt design contest and taking the PDF Champions challenges.

Some details on these ideas are below. Do you have other strategies for preparing early? Share them! Let's use the comments section of this blog to brainstorm for April 2013.

Imagine the impact we can make six months from now, if we all start ... now!

Order Your Free Parkinson's Awareness Month Supplies
If you didn't grab a free copy of our toolkit last year, order it now. It offers tips for making a difference in your community during April - whether you choose to host an educational event, collaborate with your library, or work with local public officials - and personal stories from those who have successfully raised awareness in their communities. You are also invited to browse our website for other tools, such as template letters to the editor and printable posters.
Order Now
Browse Online Tools

Enter the Annual T-Shirt Design Contest
Whose t-shirt design will be worn by thousands of people in April 2013? It could be yours! See our regulations and submit your design by Tuesday, January 15, 2013. The community will vote among five finalists in February.
Learn More

Take the PDF Champions Challenge
Could you imagine the impact on Parkinson's awareness if PDF Champions held 30 events around the country in 30 days next April? What about an event on each college campus? You can make a difference by signing up for the PDF Champions Challenge. Whether you host a bake sale, a walk/run or a party, we will work with you every step of the way to ensure your effort is a success.
Learn More

P.S.: Cyber Monday was a hit yesterday, but did you know that today is Giving Tuesday? Today, we honor ALL ways of giving back, including raising awareness, advocating and fundraising! Follow us on Twitter @PDFparkinson for #GivingTuesday updates.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Fond Farewell to an Extraordinary Friend, Paula Wittekind

Paula Wittekind

In the loss of Paula Wittekind, who passed away on November 8, the Parkinson’s community bids farewell to a lovely friend, a fine mind, and a courageous and indefatigable presence. To the end, she fought quietly but effectively against her own infirmities and against the indifference of institutions that she felt could always do more to wage serious war against Parkinson’s. But in all of these ventures – whether it was the legendary Parkinson’s Pipeline Group, which she co-founded, the Parkinson’s Action Network, or my own organization, the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation – Paula served as an effective research advocate, always finding a way to deflect attention from herself and her own needs, to others and the work they were doing to advance the interests of her community.

I last spoke to Paula by telephone a few weeks before she died, finding a rare downtime moment between the visits of pilgrims from various parts of her life who were visiting her home in Cocoa, FL – people like Perry Cohen, Peggy Willocks and other heroes of our community. In a just few minutes, she swept away the sadness and trepidation that I brought to the call and replaced them with feelings of love, respect, a laugh or two, and above all inspiration about how I could be working in her wake a little bit harder, a little bit better … and a lot more meaningfully. What a gift she made to me personally during this single conversation, and how much I value it.

Thank you, Paula, from all of us. May your wonderful and far-flung family treasure their memories of you. And may they know how many lives you touched, how deeply … and with what profound effect.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Remembering Arlen Specter

When I learned of the death of former Senator Arlen Specter two weeks ago, I thought immediately of two people in the Parkinson’s community who I knew would strike just the right chord to pull me out of a mood of regret for the loss of a true champion of medical research in America.

I got it right.

One was of these was Jim Cordy  – a veteran of the 1990’s “Washington Wars” to get Parkinson’s disease recognized – and funded -- as a national priority.  He was a close colleague of Joan Samuelson (read on), the founder of the Parkinson’s Action Network.  And he was best known (in addition to the frogs he raised, and that his wife Deborah tolerated, in their suburban Pittsburgh home) for the hour-glass that he carried everywhere, setting it on the desk or podium before him to symbolize what the passage of time means for someone who lives with Parkinson’s disease.   In Parkinson’s, he would say, every moment counts; every hour drains energy from a productive life; every year is another finger of reproach wagged at those of us who use other, more prosaic, measures of time, like annual budgets or fundraising plans.    

During our telephone conversation, Jim reminded me of the hour glass, and said he remembered how Arlen, then Senator Specter (R, PA) , ranking member of the Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, went to floor of the Senate during the debate on the federal support for research involving embryonic stem cells, referring repeatedly to “Jim Cordy’s hour glass, reminding us that time, for someone with Parkinson’s, is not neutral!”

My other witness was Joan Samuelson, the gifted and charismatic California lawyer who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in her forties; went to Washington during the administration of the first President Bush to fight for federal support of research involving the cells of discarded fetuses; then, in the mid-1990s, founded the Parkinson’s Action Network which now, under the leadership of the Amy Rick, serves as the PD community’s nerve center and power source on public policy issues.

Joan remembers Senator Specter’s unremitting commitment to medical research, the Republican counterpart to the equally indefatigable Tom Harkin (R, IA), his partner on the HHS subcommittee.  Together, they spearheaded the memorable drive to double the NIH budget between 1998 and 2003 – a spectacular achievement  that transformed the capacity of the United States to lead the world’s medical research and pave the way to new cures.  (She also reminded me, with admiration, of Senator Specter’s final legislative battle, in which he almost single-handedly persuaded Congress to add $10 billion to the NIH research budget as part of the stimulus program that President Obama put forward as a means to shake the country out of the 2009 financial crisis.)

As for me, I best remember Arlen Specter – dubbed by his fellow-Pennsylvanian Jim Cordy as the leader of “Arlen’s Army,” a play on the nickname (“Arnie’s Army”) of that other famous Pennsylvanian, the golfer Arnold Palmer – at the memorable Congressional hearing in the Fall of 1999, when the Senator and his friend Tom Harkin presided over a public hearing of the subcommittee on the subject of Parkinson’s disease research.  The hearing featured Dr. Gerald Fischbach, the head of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; Jim Cordy (armed with his hour-glass, of course!); Joan Samuelson; and the star, recently “out” with his PD diagnosis, a winsome, charming, young Canadian-born actor of the name Michael J. Fox.

PDF helped pull this event together and I was never more proud than when I saw this titanic cast playing out the Parkinson’s case before a national audience.  It wouldn’t have happened without Arlen Specter, and the PD community has never been the same since.

Goodbye, Arlen.  You did us proud.