The National Parkinson Foundation Hosts Celebrity “Team” at the Parkinson’s Unity Walk, April 16, NYC

Release date: 4/11/2011

“Love and Other Drugs” Actor Lucy Roucis Among Talented Three Urges All To Join Walk For Parkinson’s Awareness

—Meet, Greet Celebrity Team, Photos, Free iPad2 Contest, And More—

MIAMI and NEW YORK, April 11, 2011—The National Parkinson Foundation (NPF) is hosting a star-studded team, whose stories of Parkinson’s disease (PD) are sure to inspire, at the 17th Annual Parkinson’s Unity Walk in Central Park on April 16, 2011.   The team—actor and comedienne Lucy Roucis, adventure artist Johnny Strange and extreme skydiver Kevin Burkart—is urging all to join the thousands of walkers from across the country to raise funds and awareness of PD.  These remarkable individuals, who are stationed at the NPF booth, plan to meet, greet and encourage walkers and guests and answer questions. 

“These three individuals—Lucy, Johnny and Kevin—offer so much inspiration to others who face a diagnosis of and who are living with Parkinson’s disease,” states Joyce Oberdorf, President and CEO of the National Parkinson Foundation.  “Their personal, poignant stories provide hope and shed light on the Parkinson’s community; that people do amazing things even when met with great adversity.  We are so grateful they are helping fight Parkinson’s and raise awareness by joining us at the Parkinson’s Unity Walk.”

The NPF booth is number 8 on the Find A Cure Boulevard, which is situated next to the event’s launch area at the Central Park Band Shell at 72nd Street in New York City.  At the booth, NPF is also holding a contest for a free iPad2, and much more.  The Walk’s kick-off is at 9:45 a.m.  For more details, visit www.parkinson.org and/or www.unitywalk.org.  

NPF’s Celebrity Team: Their Extraordinary Stories

Hollywood Actor/Comedienne Lucy Roucis
For NPF team member, Lucy Roucis, participating in the Parkinson’s Unity Walk was an easy decision.  Lucy, who recently portrayed a stand-up comedienne with Parkinson’s in the motion picture, “Love and Other Drugs,” in fact, has young-onset PD. For Lucy, her movie performance closely mirrors her personal narrative.  After her diagnosis, Lucy still pursued her dream of becoming a Hollywood actor.  Now, by all accounts, she has very well succeeded.

Lucy currently does stand-up comedy in Denver, Colorado and performs with an acting troupe, PHAMALY, founded by individuals with disabilities.  And today, having found her voice as an advocate for Parkinson’s and disability awareness, she’s enlisting her star-power to help others in need.

Adventure Artist Johnny Strange
With family friends affected by Parkinson’s, 19-year-old adventure artist Johnny Strange decided that joining the NPF team would be like shouting PD awareness from the top of the world, literally.  The youngest person ever to climb the tallest summit on all seven continents, Johnny wanted to do more than break explorer records.  For Johnny, raising awareness of the disease and money to support PD organizations would become the inspiration behind his feats. 

Uniquely creative, in January, Johnny posed naked at the South Pole holding a sign that read, “Cure Parkinson’s,” and sent photo messages about it around the world. And now, this April, Johnny plans to skydive into the North Pole, making him the youngest ever to complete the Explorer’s Grand Slam—seven summits plus both Poles—and only the 13th person ever to have achieved this.  What he plans to do this time to raise Parkinson’s awareness is top secret.  This California resident delights in helping the cause, and is prepared to do what he has to do to ensure that people listen and take notice.

Extreme Skydiver Kevin Burkart
Having witnessed his father’s bravery when given the diagnosis of Parkinson’s in 1999, Minnesota’s Kevin Burkart, whose passion is skydiving, knew that he had to come up with a plan to help him and the one million who are afflicted with this disease.  He decided to attempt a record setting 100 skydives in one day in 2008, a jump every 5 minutes. The event was dubbed “The 100 Perfect Jumps for PD.” It raised $48,000 for PD and drew considerable media attention. He tried again in 2010 and made 150 skydives in a day averaging 3 minutes and 18 seconds per jump and raised $68,000 more for PD and global attention for the disease. In 2012, Burkart will perform the “The Final Tribute: 300 Perfect Jumps for PD.” He will need to execute a jump every 3 minutes for 17 hours.

As part of the Parkinson’s Unity Walk, Kevin is encouraging others to join him, safely from the ground. Submit personal stories of Parkinson’s disease for each of his jumps at: www.perfectjumps.com.

About Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s, with an estimated one million people with the disease in the U.S. and four to six million worldwide. At present, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease and 50-60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S.

About the National Parkinson Foundation
Founded in 1957, the National Parkinson Foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of care for people with Parkinson’s disease through research, education, and outreach. Since 1982, NPF has funded more than $155 million in care, research and support services.

For more information about the National Parkinson Foundation, please visit www.parkinson.org  or call 1-800-4PD-INFO (473-4636).

For more information about the Parkinson’s Unity Walk, please visit www.unitywalk.org.

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