After learning of her father’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, 14-year-old Zoe Butchen knew she wanted to find a way to support her father and others living with the disease in any way she could. Being philanthropic-minded, Zoe combined three things that she loves — Taylor Swift, dancing and her family — to create a unique fundraiser to support a cure for Parkinson’s.
Using Swift’s song “Shake It Off,” Zoe and her family launched a viral fundraising campaign challenging others to dance, shake and donate.
We spoke with Zoe to learn more about what has inspired her, her goals with the campaign and what she hopes to share with others.
We love that you’ve gotten involved with Team Fox to honor your Dad, who lives with Parkinson’s. Tell us what first inspired Dance/Shake/Donate!
It all started when he told us about his diagnosis, which was kind of a shocker. Although my brother and I both noticed that his hand had been shaking, we didn’t really know what it was. When I first found out that my dad had Parkinson's, I wanted to see if I could do something to make it better for him and other people living with the disease. Our family’s motto has been for dad to just “shake it off” so when the song from Taylor Swift came out and I watched the video of all the people dancing and shaking, I thought that it would be a perfect way to raise money and awareness. After sharing my idea with my family and hearing such great feedback, we decided to figure out a way to make this into a bigger idea.
How does it feel to be shining the light on Parkinson’s disease by encouraging your community to get involved in helping to speed a cure?
I’ve gotten a lot of support from my friends, family and other organizations that I’m involved with. A lot of my friends have been reaching out to me and saying “my uncle has Parkinson’s disease,” or “my grandmother did.” Knowing so many people have been touched by Parkinson’s and feel the same way I do, it makes me really want to help. Even people we don’t know are reaching out. Some of the YouTube comments are really encouraging and getting that feedback is really cool.
You’ve already raised over $11K and the event is growing — amazing! How can others get involved?
There are lots of ways that people can get involved. The best way is to visit www.danceshakedonate.com and watch our videos to get ideas. Challenge friends, families, patients, celebrities, sports teams, schools and universities to dance, shake and donate for the cause! When you post a video on social media use the hashtag #danceshakedonate. We want to spread the word as much as possible!
We bet it’s been a lot of fun watching all of the videos made by supportive friends and family—what has been the most creative submission so far?
My favorite was from a woman named Lynn. She was dancing in a hotel lobby and even got the hotel staff involved. It started with her rocking out. She was dancing and doing her own thing, then the bellmen and others hopped in and were all dancing in the background. She was interacting with all of them and it was funny and cute.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to another kid or teen looking to honor someone they know who lives with Parkinson’s?
I would just say do everything and anything you can to spread the word! Really — it can be anything small or big — to help raise money and awareness for Parkinson’s research. Dance/Shake/Donate! shows that a small idea can go a long way and can raise a lot of money with the help of people worldwide.