Paws for Parkinson's Charity Dog Walk
"When you see the number of organizations that now sponsor charity dog walks, you get an idea of the tremendous popularity of these events," says Virginia Cravotta, a spokesperson for the American Parkinson Disease Association and director of the upcoming walk. "We never imagined 400 people would turn out last year, bringing more than 100 dogs. And there was a competing dog walk to raise money for another health charity on Long Island the very same day!"
Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological disorder that results from the degeneration of cells in a region of the brain that controls movement. The disease garnered public attention several years ago when actor Michael J. Fox announced he was diagnosed with it. Although no cure exists, promising new treatments have been developed over the past few years, and research is ongoing.
"[The walk] is a great opportunity for people and their pets to socialize. No matter what a participant's particular situation is, everyone feels a great sense of solidarity in supporting the fight against a terrible disease," Cravotta said.
Even outside of the walk, dogs provide a valuable service, and the theme of this year's event is "Pets Helping People with Parkinson's Disease." Indeed, specially-trained dogs help many people with the disease to lead more independent lives.
Mary Manfredi, who has Parkinson's Disease, took part in the walk last year and will hit the trail again this year with her dog, Cary. Ms. Manfredi, who lives in Muttontown, raised the black lab as a puppy so he could later become a service dog. But Cary was so miserable when he left Ms. Manfredi to enter a special training program that he was released from the program and she adopted him. "He never leaves my side," she said. "He's always there when I need him."
Paws for Parkinson's will take place on Sunday, September 25. Registration starts at 9:00 a.m. and the walk begins at 10:30 a.m. There is a $25 registration fee, and dogs receive a colorful bandana and a water bottle. T-shirts are also available. Everyone is invited to participate in the comfortable, one-mile walk, with or without a dog. Organizers are asking participants to register in advance and collect pledges for donations prior to the event.
At the walk, volunteers will provide literature about Parkinson's disease. Various nonprofit groups that support animals will also be on hand, and walkers will find useful information for pet owners. Demonstrations such as obedience and agility training, refreshments, and prizes for top fundraisers will round out the event. This year, the grand prize for whoever collects the most pledges for donations is a weekend stay for two at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan and tickets to a Broadway play.
For more information or to register, call 516.626.6114 or 631.862.3560, or visit www.lipd.org. Pre-registration is requested, but not mandatory.