CARY — Duke and UNC hospitals have partnered with the National Parkinson Foundation to host “Moving Day,” the first major Parkinson’s disease benefit walk in North Carolina.
The event is an annual occurrence elsewhere in the country, where there are chapters of the National Parkinson Foundation. North Carolina doesn’t have a chapter, so Duke and UNC took the lead to raise money for local programming as well as a local NPF chapter.
Jessica Katz, a coordinator and clinical social worker at the UNC Hospitals movement disorders center, says demand for the programs is evident in “Moving Day” fundraising.
“We’ve raised more than $68,000,” said Katz, who serves as chairwoman for the event. “Our original goal was $50,000. Then it was $60,000. Now, I think we’re going to surpass $70,000.”
Having a chapter would help centralize information about the disease, research and treatment, Katz said. The more support the walk gets, the more the hospitals and the national foundation can offer, she said.
For example, Duke hosts exercise programs that are specifically targeted toward people with Parkinson’s. Katz would like to extend similar classes to Parkinson’s patients throughout the state.
“If you have Parkinson’s and live in a rural area, you might only have access to a physical trainer who works with athletes,” she said.
Exercise is important for people with Parkinson’s because it helps reduce the symptoms. Duke’s class, which runs three days a week for eight weeks, is specifically targeted to deal with patients’ everyday problems.
“People with Parkinson’s are at risk of falling for different reasons, so the class works on balance,” said Arlene D’Alli, a licensed clinical social worker in the neurology department at Duke Medicine. “They also practice things like walking and getting out of a chair more safely.”
About 1million Americans have Parkinson’s disease, and more than 56,000 of them live in North Carolina and South Carolina, according to the Parkinson Association of the Carolinas. There is no cure, but there are treatments for the symptoms, and Simons is familiar with them.