Kendall Park, NJ
Annie Konopka is a mother of two and she has been married to Joe for 18 years. Before she married Joe, Annie was very interested in a TV/Modeling career. She attended John Casablanca Modeling School and did some modeling in the late 80’s. Annie was a contestant in the 1987/1988 Miss NJ Pageant and the 2007 Mrs. NJ Pageant.
After her first child was born in 1995, Annie started to experience some of the early symptoms associated with Young-Onset Parkinson’s disease as a stay-at-home mom. However, when Annie became pregnant with her second child, the symptoms disappeared. After her second child arrived, the symptoms returned and Annie became very concerned. After 4 years of visiting general neurologists and movement disorder specialists, she was finally diagnosed with Young-Onset Parkinson's disease by a doctor from UPenn. Currently, Annie views her disease as a personal challenge and does not sit back and wonder why she received this diagnosis. Over the past 4 years, she has become involved in many aspects of the Parkinson’s community.
In 2005, Annie and her friend Judy from Tennessee, who also suffers with Parkinson’s disease, started USA PD Pals online support & information group. USA PD-PALS made their debut at the 12th Annual Parkinson’s Unity Walk in 2006, raising over $17,000.00. After this top ten finish, Annie hosted the 1st Annual Have A Heart for Parkinson's Valentine Dinner Dance in February 2007 where she raised over $7,400.00. That was the first step in her fundraising efforts for the 2007 Parkinson's Unity Walk where she raised over $14,000.00. Adding this total to an additional $14,000.00 from her team resulted in a grand total of $28,000.00, which catapulted the team to a top ten finish for the second year in a row.
Annie served as the 2nd Vice President on the board of New Jersey chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association 2007-2009, volunteers with the Parkinson’s Alliance and is team captain for USA PD PALS.
In addition to these activities, Annie self published her 1st children’s book “A Tale of a Parkie Princess”, which was available on barnesandnoble.com and other online book stores in March 2008. She received the “2005 Women Who Make Magic” Award, and the 2007 NJAPDA Excellence in Service Award. Also, when she competed in the 2007 Mrs. NJ USA pageant, she received the People’s choice award and 1st runner up for the Community Service Award.
In the summer of 1998 Annie and her family were selected to participate in a Parkinson's awareness campaign. The campaign, titled "Living with Parkinson’s Disease", featured Annie's family in a DVD and brochures were distributed in doctor’s offices. Her story was also selected to appear in the "Proud Hands of Parkinson’s" coffee table book, which was launched in the spring 2008.
Annie's continues to raise funds and awareness in hopes for a cure, her goal in the near future is to start her own non-profit organization that would directly benefit Parkinson's patients and their families.
".......Do not wait for leaders...do it alone, person to person."
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