Team Parkinson Runs for the Cause at the San Francisco Marathon - 08/30/2006

Jen Bugnatto, Volunteer Chair for San Francisco, shares her story from this year's marathon.

July 30, 2006 marked Team Parkinson’s second appearance at the San Francisco Marathon and for the second year we were the top charity for the event as part of their “Cause to Run” program, with the most participants at 80, and most team money raised - over $37,000 on race day and counting! I feel we are establishing good roots in San Francisco now, as we had quite a few participants from past years join us, and even more interest from new registrants that joined us for the first time this year.

Race weekend started out with two days at the Race Expo, where John and Edna Ball, Carol Walton and I manned the Team Parkinson booth. In addition to our already registered athletes who stopped by to pick up their Team Parkinson shirts, we had many people just discovering us that weekend, with loved ones, or they themselves, battling PD. We even had several people that went and joined our team back at the registration booth after meeting us, and a family out from New Jersey that we met just hours before the dinner who came and joined us Saturday night. One interesting encounter was a girl named Melissa Parkinson who came by the booth on Saturday. She told us she is a relative (Great-great -great!? granddaughter) of James Parkinson, the English physician who was the first to describe the condition that would later acquire his namesake - Parkinson's Disease. Rampi Gulati, our local rep from Novartis, premiere sponsor for Team Parkinson, also came by and manned the booth with us for a few hours Saturday, as well as attending the team dinner.

When the Expo wrapped up early Saturday evening, we headed across the street for our team dinner, once again held at Sinbad’s restaurant on the waterfront, and sponsored by Franklin Templeton Investments. We had close to 50 people in attendance. It was a wonderful evening, one of my favorite parts being when we went around the room and everyone introduced themselves and what brought them there that evening. It really felt like we were all a big family that night. We had participants that came from all across the country and internationally, both newly diagnosed, as well as those that have been battling PD for many years, all sharing their stories. Traveling the farthest was a man named Roar Eikenes who made the trip out from Norway. Roar has completed several marathons since being diagnosed with PD, and has a great spirit. As several of us were hopeless failures in pronouncing his name, we affectionately referred to him as “the guy from Norway” and luckily he had a sense of humor about this! My mom Maggie and brother Pete were also in attendance, as well as John and Edna’s son David who made the trip up from LA with them, and Doug and Mimi McGlashan, John’s running partners who also made the trip up from Southern California. Our top fundraising family this year was the Driscoll family, who were also with us last year at the SF marathon and are very committed to the cause! They raised over $6000 as of the team dinner and were still getting pledges in!

Race day started out with much better weather than I expected. The full marathoners had a really early start- 5:30am, since they ran across the Golden Gate Bridge which had to be partially closed to traffic! We had about 18 athletes running the full race. We also had about 32 registered for the 5k run/walk, which made a nice showing on the course as most of them walked together in their bright blue shirts, led by Edna and Carol! They then formed a cheering section afterwards, to cheer in the Team P marathoners and second-half marathoners! We had the remaining 30 athletes split between the first and second half marathon events. I myself ran the second half, with my running mates Laura Trott and Mary Perry-Thistle, which started in Golden Gate Park at 8:30am and finished at the Ferry building. We met near the start line with John and David Ball and several other Team Parkinson teammates running that leg of the race. I beat my time from last year by a few minutes, but for me as a slower runner it’s not really about the time, but rather the journey along the way and the reason I was taking part. What a wonderful journey it was again this year, and I look forward to the road ahead.

To further emphasize how effective it is to be out there representing Team Parkinson to raise awareness to our cause, a few of us were in line at Noah’s bagels on Market Street after the race, still wearing our Team Parkinson race singlets. After seeing the singlets, the woman behind me in line said that her mother had Parkinson’s, and asked how she could get involved. Each new person that joins us brings us one step closer to finding that cure, and you never know where you might inspire someone, whether out on the race course, in a booth at the Expo, or in line for a poppyseed bagel with shmear! Thanks to all our wonderful athletes and families that participated this year! See you all next July!

View Photos from the event!