by Alexandria Parra
The 7th annual Party for Parkinson’s 5K is an event hosted by the Catholic Care Center (CCC) which took place on their expansive campus on April 27, 2019. The CCC is not-for-profit, full continuum senior living community located in Bel Aire, Kansas. This senior living community offers a full continuum of care, and roughly 43% of their residents are Medicaid recipients. Parkinson’s is a degenerative and progressive disease that affects the nervous system. Unfortunately, there is currently no known cure. This event aimed to raise proceeds to help fund educational opportunities, support groups, and community Parkinson’s exercise classes that are free of charge for individuals who suffer from the disease and their caregivers. These efforts are focused on combating the disease symptoms and help to improve their overall well-being. The event relied heavily on business sponsorships, volunteers, and community support. In lieu of the 5K, participants had the option to participate in the 1 Mile Party Walk. In the state of Kansas, there are an estimated 7,000 individuals who suffer from this disease, limiting the educational and support services for Parkinson’s in the Wichita and Bel Aire area.
The success of this event was largely dependent on sponsorships from local businesses, volunteers, and community support. My first task was trying to secure sponsorships. I contacted roughly 55 businesses to inform them of this event and to see if they would be interested in sponsoring. Out of the 55 businesses that I spoke with, I was able to secure one sponsorship for $2,500 and obtain one gift donation of $250. The next task I was responsible for was promotion and marketing. As a student at Wichita State University (WSU), I posted flyers around campus to market the event. In addition, I also placed brochures and flyers at gyms, trampoline parks, boxing clubs, local high schools, and physical therapy offices. Along with the CCC team, we were able to participate in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Wichita Kansas and handed out beads that displayed the event’s information. My last task for this event was to keep the Party for Parkinson’s 5K Facebook account up-to-date and post regularly. I posted updates about four times a week encouraging individuals to sign up before the deadline. I posted Parkinson’s related information, emphasized what the proceeds from the event would go towards, reiterated its impact on the Parkinson’s population, and provided assistance on the day of the event.
Figures 1 and 2 show the participants the day of the race. Participants were comprised of men and women of various ethnicities and age groups. Registration fees for this event ranged from $20-$40 depending on when participants signed up. In addition to participating in the 5K or 1 Mile Walk, participants received a Party for Parkinson’s 5K t-shirt and a voucher for the pancake breakfast that took place after the event. The prizes consisted of pint-sized beer glasses, water bottles, and a $250 donated gift certificate.
In addition to participating in this event, participants were able to enjoy a pancake and bacon breakfast after they finished their run or walk. Some of the proceeds from the event helped to purchase items to make the breakfast possible.
Last year this event was comprised of 280 participants and raised a total of $6,000. This year, there were 362 participants and the event raised $18,000. In addition, we had a total of 12 business sponsorships that contributed to the event’s success. Volunteers from around the community and from WSU also assisted with the event. They were assigned to different locations around the CCC campus to monitor participants during the run and walk. The first-place winner of the 5K was a 37-year-old male who completed the run in 19 minutes and 36 seconds.
As stated previously, the proceeds from this event will go to fund educational opportunities, support groups, and community Parkinson’s exercise classes. The Parkinson’s Symposium is one of those educational opportunities. This annual event takes place the day before the run and is open to the public free of charge. During the event individuals can hear from Parkinson’s experts and learn about new treatments for the disease. They also receive a complimentary lunch and educational materials. The support group that will be established as a result of the Party for Parkinson’s 5K will cater to a younger demographic that is affected by Parkinson’s. Although Parkinson’s typically affects individuals who are 60 years and older, about 4% are diagnosed at age 50 or even earlier. This support groups aims to assure this younger demographic that they are not alone. The In Motion Parkinson’s Exercise Class, is hosted by the CCC in conjunction with the WSU Health Science Department. This class focuses on combating the progression of Parkinson’s. In addition to this class, the Lifelong Learning WellREP program offers a Parkinson’s based exercise class.
Due to the overwhelming amount of proceeds raised, the CCC is looking to establish a scholarship for students who are interested in working with the geriatric population.
By assisting with this event, I realized how vital public health events are to the community. This event and the proceeds raised have grown substantially since last year. The services that will be provided to individuals who have Parkinson’s and their caregivers is invaluable. Per the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, an individual with Parkinson’s can expect to pay around $22,800 a year for Parkinson’s-related medical expenses. Therefore, free educational opportunities and support is necessary to ensure this population has the knowledge and resources to combat the disease.