26th annual Parkinson's Unity Walk goes virtual

1010 WINS Newsroom
July 08, 2020 - 8:00 pm
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NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- The 26th Parkinson’s Unity Walk is going virtual!

The in-person walk in New York City’s Central Park, previously scheduled for April 25, was paused due to COVID-19, so organizers reimagined the event, which drew over 11,000 participants last year.

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Carol Walton, President and CEO of the Parkinson Alliance and Executive Director of the Parkinson’s Unity Walk, told 1010 WINS’ Sharon Barnes-Waters organizers are “calling it a virtual celebration."

"We’re trying to give people the feeling of the walk," she said. "Not even a pandemic was going to keep us from coming together as a community, so components of our annual Walk Day will be incorporated into the Virtual Celebration.”

Maryum "May May" Ali, the daughter of the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, co-hosts the celebration, and says the Unity Walk has always been a nice reboot for those who attend.

“With Parkinson’s, there’s a psychological component to it, and the Unity Walk brings people together, it prevents them from feeling isolated, they’re in their safe space where they can obtain all sorts of new information," she said. 

Virtual walkers can participate in activities including “exercise demos and download crafts at the kids zone,” Walton said. Friends and family can visit key areas as they would in Central Park, like the Partner Alley, and view resources provided by sponsors and foundations to learn about current medical therapies and support that is available for them. A series of social media challenges ahead of this event encourages supporters to reconnect with the Unity Walk community.

Ali told Barnes-Waters it was important to have this virtual celebration because “the average person living with Parkinson’s feel isolated as it is because of some of the limitation that they have, but then with the pandemic it exacerbates it, and they’re more vulnerable, so we had to do this in lightning speed and continue our mission, and have people feel good about what’s going on.”

The pandemic has put a financial strain on many people, and Walton said she realizes that this will not be a “banner year for money, and people have a lot of demands on them."

One hundred percent of every dollar goes to Parkinson’s research so there is “no donation too big or too small, they’re all important, and we are going to keep donations for this walk until the 8th of August and then we’ll close it," she said.

The Parkinson’s Unity Walk Virtual Celebration takes place on Saturday, July 11 starting at 11 a.m. You can register at Unitywalk.org.