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Parkinson's Disease Community Unites to Find a Cure at the 15th Annual Parkinson's Unity Walk
Date:4/9/2009

First Ever Virtual Parkinson's Unity Walk Launched to Expand Participation and Donations

NEW YORK, April 9 /PRNewswire/ -- On Saturday April 25, the Parkinson's disease community will unite in New York City's Central Park for the 15th annual Parkinson's Unity Walk to raise awareness and funds for Parkinson's disease research. The two-mile walk, and educational community day, provides an opportunity for this community to come together to celebrate and recognize the more than one million Americans who are affected by Parkinson's disease and their families and friends.

"This year's Walk is a special one -- it marks 15 years since the inception of this monumental event in the Parkinson's community. At the first walk there were 200 participants, last year more than 10,000 people came from across the United States to fight to cure Parkinson's disease and to connect with others whose lives are affected by the disease," said Carol Walton, executive director of the Parkinson's Unity Walk. "On April 25, we will walk to eradicate Parkinson's disease, walking to provide hope, walking to find a cure."

Together, the Parkinson's Unity Walk and Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the proud partner and premier sponsor for the ninth year, continue to support Parkinson's disease awareness and partner in the development of needed tools. Understanding that, given the current economic climate, many people who want to attend the event in Central Park this year may not be able to do so, the pair teamed up to create the first ever Virtual Parkinson's Unity Walk. This year, participants can walk virtually with the thousands of others who will be walking in Central Park, by signing up at www.unitywalk.org. The website includes an interactive map of the United States that will highlight the locations of "virtual walkers," helping to illustrate the far-reaching impact of the Unity Walk and Parkinson's disease.

"The Parkinson's Unity Walk provides the perfect opportunity for Boehringer Ingelheim to continue our commitment to helping those who are touched by Parkinson's gain the resources they need to help manage the condition. We are thrilled to be in our ninth year as proud partner and premier sponsor of the Walk," commented Albert Ros, executive vice president at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

To commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Parkinson's Unity Walk, the organization is asking donors to consider "stepping it up" by increasing their donations by $15 or 15 percent more than the amount donated in 2008. As an incentive, donors who are able to increase donations by this amount will be eligible to participate in a raffle drawing for a dream vacation, valued at $5,000. In addition, all fundraisers who raise $1,000 or more will receive a custom 18-ounce travel mug with a full color photo of the Parkinson's Unity Walk.

"The Unity Walk inspires a spirit of renewed hope for everyone connected to Parkinson's disease," said Marlene Kahan, a community advocate, Unity Walk participant and person living with Parkinson's disease. "Whether at home or in Central Park, a single step can truly change the life of a person with Parkinson's disease."

The Unity Walk is also expected to draw impromptu attendance from celebrity supporters. To receive more information on Parkinson's disease, the raffle and give-a-ways, and the Parkinson's Unity Walk, or to lend support and donate, please visit www.unitywalk.org or call 1-866-PUW-WALK (789-9255).

About Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's disease is the second most common chronic neurological disorder in older adults after Alzheimer's, affecting approximately one percent of people over age 60. Approximately 15 percent of patients develop Parkinson's disease before the age of 50. Every nine minutes someone is diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Symptoms include tremor, muscle rigidity, slowed motion, shuffling gait, and a loss of facial expression. The symptoms vary from patient to patient, but become more severe over time.

About Parkinson's Unity Walk

Founded in 1994 by Margot Zobel, the Parkinson's Unity Walk is an annual event where the entire Parkinson's community gathers with the goal of not only raising awareness of the condition, but of raising donations for research. The Parkinson's Unity Walk has made a significant impact on the Parkinson's disease community since its inception, raising more than $9 million for Parkinson's research by uniting the community under a common goal of winning the war against Parkinson's disease. Support for the Walk has grown considerably each year -- from 200 participants at the first walk in 1994, to more than 10,000 last year. The event unites the strength and spirit of the seven major Parkinson's disease organizations: American Parkinson Disease Association, National Parkinson Foundation, Parkinson's Action Network, Parkinson's Disease Foundation, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, The Parkinson Alliance, and the Parkinson's Institute. With 100 percent of donations given to research, the Unity Walk provides the public with an opportunity to help the Parkinson's community and change the lives of the millions of people suffering from the disease.


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SOURCE Parkinson?s Unity Walk
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