In the spirit of Oktoberfest, we rounded up three of our Team Fox fundraisers who use their love of beer to raise critical funds for Parkinson’s disease (PD) research. Although they’re located in different states, Rose and Chris Babcock, Laurel Gladden and Kimberly Thiel each host an annual Pints for Parkinson’s fundraiser in their communities.
It all started with Chris and Rose Babcock. After Rose’s father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, she discovered Team Fox and decided to join the team for a local marathon. “When we arrived at the pre-race dinner, we didn’t know anyone. By the end of the night we had 50 new friends!” says Rose. Fast forward a year later, Chris’s mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s as the couple was training for the NYC Marathon. “We very much have a vested interest in finding more effective treatments and ultimately a cure,” says Chris. In 2015, they hosted their first Pints for Parkinson’s Orlando.
A fellow beer lover, Laurel Gladden’s husband — who also brews his own beer at home — was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2013. After some research, Laurel learned about Pints for Parkinson’s fundraising events in Louisville and Orlando. “That led me to Team Fox and the exciting ability to raise funds on a grassroots level,” she says. “It’s so empowering.” The first Pints for Parkinson’s New Mexico was in 2018.
In Minnesota, Kimberly Thiel was introduced to Team Fox through the Chicago Marathon in 2015, which she ran in honor of her father. “After forming relationships with people at the race, I knew that Team Fox was a place I belonged and needed to be,” she says. Shortly after, she read about the Orlando Pints for Parkinson’s event and immediately reached out to Rose and Chris. They offered their ideas and advice and in 2019, Pints for Parkinson’s Minnesota became a reality.
For others considering a similar event, or for those who love to talk beer, check out this Q and A with Rose, Chris, Laurel and Kimberly.
MJFF: What is the best part about a Pints for Parkinson’s event?
Chris: Each year, there seems to be someone that was just diagnosed with Parkinson’s, or had a family member that was diagnosed and, many times, have never met someone else with PD. By the time they leave they have a newfound confidence that they are not alone.
Laurel: That sense of community and togetherness — not to mention people’s generosity — is so heartening and reassuring And it’s also great to find out how many people love beer and want to support independent local brewers and gastropubs!
Kimberly: I met many local community members who are also affected by Parkinson's in various ways, and forged relationships. The beer community and small businesses in Minnesota were so generous in offering beer and raffle and silent auction items.
MJFF: Who do you partner with to make your event a success?
Chris: Each year we are amazed at the local breweries that craft a custom brew for the “Foxiest Beer in Orlando” competition, and the businesses that donate items for our raffle. Some local breweries, like Ten10 Brewing Company, Crooked Can Brewing Company, and Bowigen’s Beer Company, or folks from outside of Orlando like Harpoon or Bold City Breweries are Founding Sponsors from years ago.
Rose: We would be nowhere without our friends and extended Team Fox family that sells tickets, helps run the auction and raffles.
Laurel: We work primarily with the wonderful people at local breweries, gastropubs, and bars (and a theater where we held a screening of Teen Wolf!) in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Santa Fe is a small city, so it’s a pretty tight-knit community. Our friends are also always eager to help and to spread the word about events.
Kimberly: Over 26 local breweries donated slim kegs of beer to our inaugural event (the equivalent of 1,612 pints of beer!). OM Brewers hosted a yoga class to kick off the event and donated the proceeds. Family and friends volunteered to help run games, donate auction items, make graphics, write press releases, set up the day of, and offer encouragement along the way. My husband probably deserves an award for his love, support and patience. And local Team Fox members rallied around the event as well.
MJFF: How have your plans for Pints 2020 changed due to the pandemic?
Rose: With the temporary closures of many of Florida’s Craft Breweries, we quickly realized that hosting a full event this year wouldn’t be possible. On the weekend in July that we would have had our event, we pivoted to folks being able to purchase a “virtual beer” and used our social media to highlight the breweries that helped us raise $18,000 in 2019.
Laurel: We started 2020 with big hopes and grand plans and had our first fundraiser of the year in early March. Within the next week, our state went into lockdown, so all our events were put on hold indefinitely. But through Pints for Parkinson’s Orlando’s Instagram, I learned about Charity Miles, which has allowed me to continue fundraising. We’re also still taking donations online (p4pnm.org) and we participated in the Fox Trot this October, altogether raising over $4,000 so far.
Kimberly: I still plan to host Pints for Parkinson's Minnesota in some way, shape or form in 2020. There will be virtual components, and perhaps additional ways to support the local breweries and businesses. I am aiming for an April event in 2021 to correlate with Parkinson's Awareness Month. No matter what, there will be beer, fun and funds raised to help find a cure!
MJFF: What advice would you give someone that wants to host a Pints event?
Rose: The craft beer industry is filled with folks that want to help, so don’t be afraid to ask if they want to collaborate.
Chris: At our first few events, we received $1 per pour of a specific tap. If you told us then that we would grow to feature nine event beers and dozens of raffle and auction items, I would have told the bartenders to cut you off! We are in awe of folks like the New England Parkinson’s Ride who raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, as well as Lucy’s Lemonade Stand in upstate New York that sells out of whatever she is offering. Each event, regardless of the fundraising total is all helping the same cause.
Laurel: Do it! Team Fox makes fundraising so easy and enjoyable, and the team is super supportive. Pints events can be big, once-a-year, city-wide events — but they don’t have to be. Our events are smaller, happen multiple times a year, and involve our favorite breweries and business owners. It’s a great way to support the work MJFF does while spending time with friends and community members. It’s worth every minute of the work you put into it.
Kimberly: If you like beer and are passionate about finding a cure for PD, you will find the way to make the event happen. Find a place willing to host your event, and then go from there. Once you have a brewery, or a business that offers to donate or support your event, it is an instant rush of happy endorphins that continue to fuel your fundraising fire. Also accept the help of others around you.
MJFF: Describe your ideal beer.
Rose: Whichever you’re buying!
Laurel: I’m an IPA lover — I love pronounced, grapefruity, leafy hops — but I do really enjoy beers with a malty balance (milder IPAs and pale ales). I also unabashedly adore PBR and Miller High Life (the Champagne of Beers!) in certain settings and circumstances. But the beer I’d choose if I could only drink one beer for the rest of my life is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
Kimberly: Any beer we drink surrounded by friends and family that helps find a cure for Parkinson's! I enjoy so many styles of beer, so I firmly believe that if you haven't found a beer you like yet, you haven't tried the right ones. There is a beer out there for everyone!
Ready to turn your passion into a successful fundraiser? Join Team Fox to receive support, inspiration and practical resources for every stage of the process.