We were excited to catch up with Sue Pelchat, Team Fox member and captain of Team TAPSG—Torrington Area Parkinson's Support Group, as she shared some details about her upcoming event, “A Walk in the Woods for Parkinson’s.” Having raised nearly $40,000 for PD research to date, this group sure knows how to plan a fun-filled day for the Parkinson’s community. Check out our Q&A with Sue to learn more about the walk and her inspiration for joining Team Fox.
What motivated you and TAPSG to organize this walk and get involved with Team Fox?
One day, one of the founders of our support group looked at me and said, "We should have a walk for Parkinson’s." We started talking to others who had led similar fundraisers and gathered as much information as we could, predicting problems and solving them before they appeared. Then someone asked, "What are we going to do with the money we raise?" We immediately thought of the most prominent name in Parkinson's research: The Michael J. Fox Foundation. And so, we established our group with Team Fox, giving nearly $12,000 to the foundation in the first year.
Tell us about “A Walk in the Woods for Parkinson’s.”
The event at White Memorial field boasts several activities, including professional circus performers, face-painters, a bakery tent and firetruck, antique cars, an obstacle course, a precision jump rope demonstration and (as of this year) a dog-training demonstration and photo booth! There's something for everyone, even those who find it difficult to navigate. Our walking trails vary from a gentle half-mile to a more rigorous three-mile trek through the woods.
Many families bring picnics for before and after the walk, where they can enjoy the beautiful conservation center as a reunion background. There are also prizes for the highest amount raised by a team and the highest amount donated by an individual. The silent auction features items worth $100 and more, and ticketed drawings feature other great prizes as well.
Rain or shine, this day is always filled with smiles, happiness and celebration. Most of the proceeds are donated to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, and some of the funds are used to provide exercise programming for local citizens with Parkinson's.
What role has your event played in your ability to get involved with Team Fox and make a difference?
"Walk in the Woods for Parkinson's" has made a positive difference in the lives of our support group members. It has given us focus; it has given us a common purpose and language; it has given us joy as we celebrate our successes each year. It's something we look forward to each September, and it has made us a team — Team Fox!
As you walk for Parkinson’s, who or what is your inspiration?
I walk for my husband of 33 years. He was diagnosed with PD about six years ago and continues to develop associated symptoms. Each time a new symptom arises, we say, "If this is the worst it ever gets, we can handle it." But wouldn't it be nice if we didn't have to handle it, if there were a cure, a reversal to rid him of the changes he’s faced due to Parkinson's? That’s why I walk. I also have two beautiful daughters and worry about genetic predisposition to Parkinson's disease. I want to do all in my power to bring an end to PD before they reach an age where they might be affected by it. That's why I walk.
Sue is eager to see residents of northwest Connecticut and beyond at her walk for Parkinson's on Sunday, September 20. To learn more about the event, please visit http://walkforpd.org. #GoTeamFox
Interested in hosting an event in your community and fundraising in support of Parkinson's research? Join Team Fox today.