Team Parkinson Participates as an Official Charity at the US Half Marathon - 10/17/2004

San Francisco is a wonderful city for an event, and Team Parkinson's participation as an Official Charity of the US Half Marathon was no exception. Against the beautiful backdrop of the San Francisco skyline and the world famous Golden Gate Bridge, more than 30 Team Parkinson volunteers cheered in more than a dozen runners and walkers in the 13 .1-mile race. Jennifer Bugnatto, our Team Parkinson coordinator in San Francisco, did a fantastic job for the second year in a row. Her organizational skills and attention to detail made this race weekend a tremendous success. On Saturday, October 16th, Team Parkinson had a table at the US Half Expo at the Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf. A couple thousand people came through the Expo to pick up their TP t-shirts and race singlets. Many showed some interest in our organization as we gathered new names for our growing mailing list and there were some generous donations as well. On Saturday evening, thanks to the efforts of Maggie Bugnatto, Jennifer's mom, we had a wonderful carbo-loading dinner for more than a dozen athletes and volunteers at the Delancey Street restaurant. The atmosphere and service were perfect and the food excellent. We hope to be back there next year. All-in-all it was a very productive day.

Race day was Sunday, October 17. Carol Walton and Edna Ball were out in the dark at 5:30am setting up our TP tent at the finish line area of the race. This involved some interesting (if not downright illegal) maneuvers like moving police barricades out of the way and driving the van over a curb between two parking meters! Team Parkinson had about 30 volunteers helping the race effort. Many of them were manning the TP water station at mile 7 across the Golden Gate Bridge, which was commended by the Golden Gate Bridge District for being the nicest and neatest water station ever! Volunteers also manned the registration tent and the finish line. Their duties were to remove the athletes' timing chips and award them their medals. Team Parkinson was beautifully visible throughout the event in our bright blue t-shirts and we made a very good impression.

For those in the race itself, there was much to be thankful for; it was a cool and comfortable morning, with light mist at times and a cool breeze in the face on the way back over the bridge. It was not a particularly hilly or challenging course; the path was easy to follow and the spectators were at the right spots to keep us on course. They were occasionally loud enough to spur us on and encouraged us to pick up the pace.  The course wound easily along the north edge of the city until it climbed up and entered onto the Golden Gate Bridge. Then it just got incredible, with the top of the pylons shrouded in the morning fog, and the beautiful cove full of sailboats waiting at the north end.  At the end of our northbound leg, we swung right to go down and under the bridge and then climbed back up to re-enter on the southbound side. But first we passed through the Team Parkinson water station. You guys were awesome! Water and Gatorade were plentiful and delivered with cheerful smiles and words of encouragement. Southbound across the bridge the city was shrouded in the morning fog -hardly more than a shadow-box image - until we were back on the city streets facing the longest miles of the course. Those last 4 miles are mostly flat, and unusually painful. They seem to go on forever; but finally, with less than a mile to go, you have to break out of the flat plodding gait and climb over one last seemingly insurmountable hill just before the finish line.  But we made it, and we were greeted by the cheers and smiles and tender care of our Team Parkinson volunteers who carefully removed the electronic chips from our feet and wrapped our necks with medals.     

We want to thank race director Ryan Dawkins and the US Half Marathon for granting us this opportunity. A huge thank you goes to Jennifer Bugnatto for an excellent job as TP coordinator in San Francisco, to Maggie Bugnatto for making all the carbo-dinner arrangements, to all the volunteers who gave so generously of their time and energy, and to all the athletes who trained so hard to run or walk for this cause. A very big thank you goes to everyone who donated money so that we can continue to fund research that will one day lead to a cure for Parkinson's disease.

So far, Team Parkinson has raised over $15,000, and donations are still coming in.