Team Parkinson Celebrates its Sixth Anniversary at the L.A. Marathon

March 6th, 2005 marked the six-year anniversary for Team Parkinson's participation as an official charity of the Los Angeles Marathon. The Marathon itself was celebrating its 20th anniversary and we had our best representation ever on race day. Participation was at an all time high with almost 120 athletes in all three events - the Acura LA Bike Tour, the LA Marathon, and the Emerald Nuts 5K. Our wonderful blue t-shirts were everywhere!

After dealing with record rainfall through the fall and most of the winter, we all wondered what weather we'd have to face on race day. We watched the 10-day forecast daily for a month as we inched closer and closer to March 6th. The prognosis kept changing, at one time predicting rain, a day later mostly cloudy and cool and finally, on race day, yielding a beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the low seventies with a nice breeze. It was the kind of day that brings large migrations of people from colder climates. As the song says, "I LOVE LA", and on LA Marathon day we really love it!

Team Parkinson 2005 began with three days at the Quality of Life Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center. We had a beautiful double booth this year and were proud to have the premier sponsorship of Novartis. Novartis representative Athena Dileva was kind enough to spend several hours staffing the booth and we so enjoyed her company. We had many visitors to the booth, and volunteers, including May May Ali. Thanks to all our volunteers who worked shifts and helped set up and take down the booth. A special thank you to Michael Erdely and his friend Myo for taking pictures all weekend.

On Saturday evening March 5th, we had our Team Parkinson carbo-loading dinner at Ciao Trattoria in downtown LA for about 100 people. Norm Reeves Superstore was our gracious dinner sponsor and made it all possible. The setting was magical and was enhanced by the beautiful violin music of Steve Ball, who came from San Diego for the occasion. The meal was great and the speeches by Edna and John Ball, Carol Walton, Trina Stokes, Dr. Michael Jakowec and Kim Seidman were inspiring. We had some very special entertainment when Mary Yost, co-founder of Team Parkinson, sang a very humorous song about the continuing search for a cure. Our Grand Prize winner for fundraising was Aaron Moretzsky, having raised almost $20,000 this year. Aaron was also instrumental in getting many wonderful door prizes which were distributed throughout the evening. It was a lovely evening and served as a pep rally for race day on Sunday.

We apologize again to the intrepid early morning bike riders for not seeing them off at 6am. One of these years we'll have to have a photographer/rider take part for us in order to record the crack-of-dawn event. Kudos go to Jim Wetherell and Ted Bean, both with PD, who have done this ride for Team Parkinson year after year.

This year we had 28 runners and/or walkers in the marathon and John Ball was the only one with PD, running his 10th Los Angeles Marathon. With the help of his faithful team of Mark and Jordan Saxonberg and Doug and Mimi MacGlashan, he recorded his best finish of the last five years, at 4:53:03. There were other distinctions as well. Charles Eckel, from Santa Clara, finished in 2:53:00 and ranked 62nd overall in a field of 25,000! Now that's fast! We had the honor of having Dr. Michael Jakowec and Avery Abernathy, both doing research on Parkinson's disease at USC, run for our team. It's not every day that the docs are out there participating at this level. We were also thrilled to have May May Ali, our Honorary Captain, run the marathon again on our behalf. This was made all the more meaningful since her father, the great Muhammad Ali, was the official race starter. What a great inspiration he is to millions and what a great friend May May is to us. We had the McKinney/Young family, "Five for Mom", five siblings running and walking the marathon to honor their mother living with PD. We had the dedicated effort of Stacey Palenbaum, walking her first marathon to honor her mother Annette. Rebecca Smith walked to honor her brother Jerry, and Ruth Grant of Oakland ran in memory of her father Ivor. Ken Aidekman, in on the initial development of Team Parkinson and here to get away from winter weather in New Jersey, ran his second LA Marathon. There were others as well and each and every effort and every step along that 26.2-mile course is very much appreciated by all of us at Team Parkinson. The marathon participants were well supported by exuberant cheerleaders at our cheering corner at mile 25 and were all happy to see dozens of us in our team shirts encouraging them as they approached the finish line. It was a lot of fun and we stayed on the street until every one of our athletes was accounted for.

The 5K had a huge turnout with about 85 people. What a sight it was to see all our beautiful bright blue t-shirts everywhere! There were 8 walkers with PD in this event. Team Parkinson co-founder Mary Yost was among the participants, walking with her nephew Tom. Rod Preston walked with the very energetic team from Oxnard, The CNI Live Wires, from the California Neuroscience Institute, including Susan Kline, Roberta Rubin and Matt Seidman, among others. They were amazing not only on the course, but in their fundraising effort as well. Team Ackerberg was led by Lisette Ackerberg and she had great support from a large team of friends. And speaking of large teams, the Lieber family was there in numbers this year and made an impressive showing. Dan Kiefer, also with PD, ran the 5K to get in shape for fatherhood, which happened just two days later! While her husband was running the marathon, Dr. Giselle Petzinger of USC was there with her three kids in tow doing the 5K, as were Drs. Jennifer Hui and Mickie Welsh, also of USC. Our fearless leader from The Parkinson Alliance, Carol Walton walked the 5K with her best friend Pam Waddell of Spokane,WA. And Trina Stokes of the Parkinson's Unity Walk was there with her twin sister Alisha. Our young walkers included Sean Hasson, running in honor of his grandpa Aaron Moretzsky, Maddie Mayerson and her parents in honor of her grandpa Jerry, and Jennie and Julia Waldow and their parents in memory of their grandpa Sy Markowitz. What great kids! Justine Lassoff headed a team of her sister Leah and several friends who ran and walked in honor of Justine's dad Al Rosenheck. Ruth Cole ran and had the honor of winning first place in her age group of 70-74! And Jan Duffy won 2nd in her age group of 60-64! These are some speedy women. The Wong family participated for the first time for their dad Timothy, who did the 5K in his scooter. He looked like he was having a great time as did his wonderful daughters Helen and Tracy. Jennifer Bugnatto, our Team Parkinson San Francisco coordinator was here to take part in our LA festivities and did the 5K to show her support. And finally, accompanied by daughter Kippi Stolz of Denver, Co., our most senior walker, 84-year old Bill Ball, walked to support his son John running the marathon. There were many more, and we thank each and every one of you for giving of your time and energy for this important cause.

Team Parkinson 2005 was a great success by every measure. Great participation, great race times, great weather and great fundraising! As of this writing, we've raised about $144,000 and donations are still coming in. We thank each and every one of you for all your hard work training for your event and for your fundraising effort. We hope that some day soon we can invite all of you to a different kind of Team Parkinson event....a party to celebrate a cure for Parkinson's disease!

View photos from the event here

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