Team Parkinson at the 2009 San Francisco Marathon

The number 7 is considered lucky by many. As Team Parkinson gathered for our 7th year in San Francisco, I feel lucky to have found this organization and all the wonderful, inspiring and courageous people I have met through it!

Race weekend started out once again with the two-day Marathon Expo, this year at the SF Concourse Expo Center in the South of Market area.  I could tell as we greeted our team members who stopped by the Team Parkinson booth that they too felt lucky to have found others who share a common understanding of the struggles they and their families are facing, and with whom they can build and share a sense of hope and optimism that through their efforts, promising research they help fund will lead to a cure in the not too distant future!  I am always moved by others at the expo who discover us for the first time when they see our booth, you can tell when they linger and take a special interest in our flyers, or perhaps become emotional, that they too are affected by Parkinson’s disease.  They are so happy to have learned about our organization, and eager to participate in future events we have planned.

When the expo wrapped up Saturday afternoon, we headed over to South Beach Café.  They treated us so well last year that they have become our new home for our team dinners in SF!  We had a wonderful treat for our program that evening, Dr. J. William Langston, Founder, CEO and Scientific Director of the Parkinson’s Institute in Sunnyvale was our guest speaker and reported on promising new research projects for Parkinson’s.  He and his lovely wife Lisa even delayed the start of their vacation by one day so they could join us, and everyone was so pleased to have them share the evening with us.  We had about 55 people in all attend and it was an uplifting night with messages of hope and strength  -- and of course delicious cheesy lasagna and pizza!

The next morning I met our 5k runners and walkers near the starting line where we took some group photos before heading out on the course!  Though it was early and not everyone was sufficiently caffeinated yet, enthusiasm and energy rose steadily as more and more team members showed up in their bright teal Team Parkinson shirts, and we were all reminded of our purpose and inspiration for being there that day!   As team members spread across the course, whenever a Team P shirt was spotted there was always a welcome wave and a “Go Team Parkinson” shout from another teammate across the road!  The announcer at the race also acknowledged Team P many times as our people crossed the finish line!

After the 5k, we set up our cheering section near Red’s Java House on the Embarcadero  (chosen for it’s proximity to both the finish line, and of course a fresh cup of java!).  This is where we cheered on those teammates running or walking the full or the second half marathon events.  We had several team members with PD out on the course in the 5k, half and full marathon events-- all of them had a great race that day!  Gregg Riehl bettered his half marathon time by over an hour from the year before!  Marty Miller and Dewey Richardson both had great half’s also, and John Ball in his 22nd Full Marathon never ceases to amaze!  Dan Driscoll participated in the 5k with his wonderful family, and our many other teams were out on the course as well- Team Crumbcake, Dynamic Demgens, Team Greg, The Best in The West, Whiz Wits, Lou-Lou, Team Mowji, Team OT and Ella Kim Wing, along with my Team Bugnatto family and friends all had a wonderful time, with everyone finishing the course and lots of smiles!  Some other stories to note-  Carly Beach, a new runner finishing her first race ever- a half marathon, in honor of her father recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s.  Her parents flew in from Wisconsin to surprise her and cheer her on!  Edna Ball, Carol Walton, Ruth Gimpel, Susan Saxonberg, and Lyle and Dewey Richardson walked the second half marathon together, some for the first time in an event of that distance!  Congratulations to all of our athletes who participated race weekend!!

As this was a rough year for the economy non-profits are not sure what to expect as far as fundraising goes, but our totals are not that far off from where we were last year, and as of this writing we are over $56,000 raised with some funds and matching gifts still coming in!  At the dinner we awarded Amy Driscoll our grand prize as top individual fundraiser, with over $3,700 raised! Amy’s family (Team Driscoll-Durling) as a whole raised over $11,000 this year!   Congratulations and many thanks to all of our teams and individual fundraisers for all of your efforts on behalf of Team Parkinson this year! I’d also like to thank our premiere sponsor Solvay Pharmaceuticals, and our dinner sponsor Norm Reeves Honda Superstore for their support.  By helping to offset any overhead costs they insure that the money everyone raises through these events can all go to Parkinson’s research!

And so another SF Marathon event has drawn to a close.  We hope you will join us again next year, Sunday July 25th, 2010, so we can create more memories and continue on our course to find that cure! 

Jen Bugnatto

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