When it comes to their fundraisers, Team Fox members often say: “Go big or go home.” James Little and Pam Wood, Texans living with Parkinson’s in San Antonio and Dallas (respectively), have taken this mantra to heart.
“Personal touch” yields record results
James Little (pictured bottom right, with his wife, Janan) has spent his career in the oil and gas business and has always been involved in charitable causes. But after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s five years ago at age 56, he decided to dedicate his efforts to The Michael J. Fox Foundation.
On May 2, 2013, James hosted his inaugural Team Fox event, a gala dinner at San Antonio’s Grand Hyatt, featuring a silent auction and musical entertainment. Among the more than 300 guests in attendance was San Antonio Major Julian Castro, who issued a proclamation declaring it “Benefit for Parkinson’s Day.” That night James set a new record for a first-time Team Fox event, raising an astonishing $201,000.
The response from his friends and family who generously stepped up to help was amazing, James says. “It was absolutely perfect. Not because of me, but because of everyone who contributed. And people are still talking about it months later.”
While pulling off such a huge event is a challenge, James sees it as a tremendous opportunity to generate awareness about Parkinson’s. He is already making plans for future Team Fox events.
A simple secret to his fundraising success is the personal touch. He explains, “I think it makes a real difference when you ask your friends in person for their help — and then follow up to thank them.”
Instead of allowing his PD to get him down, James says it has inspired him to find ways to convey to others what it’s like to live with the disease. “When people understand more, they want to do whatever they can to support you.”
“All you have to do is ask”
Team Fox member Pam Wood (pictured above with her tennis team) is also aiming high for her inaugural event. On November 23 she is hosting what may be Team Fox’s first-ever Western swing dance. With a “Wild West” costume competition and silent auction, “there will be something for everyone,” she says.
The idea came about after Pam attended a similar dance over a year ago, benefiting another charitable organization. Though not much of a dancer, she had the time of her life. Not long after, she was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s disease (YOPD). As she turned to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for more information, she entered the Foundation’s Facebook photo contest to help raise awareness. Pam quickly discovered her competitive streak (earning fifth place) and an online YOPD support group. That’s how she connected with Team Fox mentor Nancy Mulhearn, who helped get her event off the ground.
“People are interested and want to help,” she says. “I’ve learned all you have to do is ask.” As she has met more people in the Parkinson’s community, she feels it is her mission to help fellow patients live better with PD. She says, “I feel the love of everyone behind me. And that motivates me to want to do even more.”
Along with a rigorous exercise regimen, which includes tennis, weight training, water aerobics and yoga, Pam volunteers her time for Parkinson’s clinical studies. Currently enrolled in a biomarkers study and a voice training project, she continues to look for new trial match opportunities through Fox Trial Finder.
Pam has already surpassed her initial $20,000 fundraising goal, so she upped it to $40,000. She says, “For the first time in my life, I feel I have a real purpose — to raise funds and awareness for this disease. I want to do everything while I’m able to.”