Healthy Living

An Orlando Couple’s Efforts Towards Parkinson’s Disease Awareness

An Orlando Couple’s Efforts Towards Parkinson’s Disease Awareness

Chris and Rose Babcock participating in a 2016 Walt Disney World charity event. Photo Source: The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.

Parkinson’s Disease, the degenerative disorder which affects the patient’s central nervous system — specifically, the motor system —, is a condition which affects millions of persons from around the world. As of 2015, over 6 million individuals suffer from this condition, with 117,400 passing away due to complications of the disease in that same year. The disease can affect anyone, though it is more common in males and the symptoms usually surface after the age of 60. This is the case of local Orlando couple Rose and Chris Babcock, who have parents that are suffering from the disease and whose lives have changed dramatically as a result.

In 2013, Rose started noticing that her father was showing sign and symptoms typical of the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. After some time and persuasion, her father went to see a neurologist and received an official diagnosis several months later. In the same manner, Chris’ mother, already knowledgeable about the disease thanks to Chris’ background, realized she too was experiencing several signs and symptoms of the disease, which prompted her to get a check-up after which she received a formal diagnosis a few weeks after. These common backgrounds, coupled with the increasing incidence of patients with Parkinson’s Disease in Rose’s physical therapy practice motivated the couple to start their own support group for both individuals with PD as well as their caregivers.

Where'd the idea come from?

The idea for this support group — which is the Babcocks’ own version of the Pints for Parkinson’s events which are held in many places around the country — was conceived after the 2015 Walt Disney Weekend Marathon, where the couple learned about the benefits and effectiveness of fundraising campaigns. The idea behind the Babcock’s Pints for Parkinson event was to create a space where people of all ages and backgrounds — suffering from PD, or otherwise — could gather and spend a pleasant afternoon in great company.

Chris and Rose’s personal experiences as marathon runners themselves also played a vital role in the inception of Pints for Parkinson’s, including running in New York City for the first time and stopping at an unofficial aid station where several spectators standing outside a pub offered them beer as a joke. To their surprise, the runners took them up on their offer and, after a few beers and several group pictures, they continued on their way towards the end of the race.

The team also ran Disney marathons long before their respective parents’ PD diagnosis, which made fundraising for these races a logical step to take. Additionally, even when Chris and Rose are not running the Disney marathons, they’re always participating in the sidelines, rooting for their colleagues in Team Fox. Last but not least, the fact that the craft brew industry in Florida was gaining momentum made them a natural fit for this event. After all, who doesn’t enjoy good company on one hand, and a cool pint of some of the best brews on the other?

First Pints for Parkinson's

2015 marked the date of the first ever Pints for Parkinson’s event hosted by Chris and Rose, which was a massive success. To this day, their charity efforts have managed to raise more than $15,000, all of which goes towards Team Fox and the Michael J. Fox Foundation with hopes of raising awareness and speeding up the research for a cure for this disease which significantly and negatively impacts the lives of millions of patients around the world.

The Babcock’s preparations have helped to grow the community revolving around the cause to grow from only 100 expected attendees for the first event, to more than 300 individuals which actually showed up for the occasion. According to the couple, they would have been completely overwhelmed by the sudden turn of events if it weren’t for the myriad of preparations they performed beforehand, and for all the amazing help and support they received from all the people involved. From the general manager to the bartenders and other employees which worked overtime to secure the event’s success, Pints of Parkinson’s was an astonishing victory in the fight to find a cure for the disease.

Commitment to success

An important factor which is vital to event’s success — and from which it gets its namesake — is the support of the local craft beer community of Florida. Given that much of the appeal of the event — besides spreading the word and raising awareness on PD — lies in partaking of some of the best beer in the state. For this reason, the generosity of the of the local craft brewers was a huge boon for the event, as every raffle donation and donated keg contributed immensely towards achieving its objective. Now that the event is beyond its second year, the support from local brewery and sponsors is more important than ever, as they function as a valuable networking outlet through which the event can secure additional followers and contributors. As a matter of fact, the 2016 Pints for Parkinson’s marked an occasion where sponsor support was particularly helpful, as the number of beer kegs for the event had to be doubled given that they had run out of beer only 2 hours into the event of the previous year.

The 2017 Pints for Parkinson’s event held even more surprises for its avid followers, as Chris and Rose managed to secure over 8 different types of beer for the enjoyment of their audience. The gathering also held a special foundation-based competition where the local breweries went toe-to-toe with the objective of finding out which of them could brew the “Foxiest” beer in the event. Suffice to say, amidst tons of fun and laughter, this year was yet another resounding success for the event and the cause.

The level of commitment of the organizers usually says a lot about the expected outcome of any fundraiser event, and Pints for Parkinson’s is no exception to this. the quality of the events hosted by this group has made them one of the most important fundraisers for Parkinson’s Disease in the state. That isn’t to say there aren’t other fundraisers worth taking a look at and whose efforts are also contributing greatly towards finding a cure which would allow sufferers of Parkinson’s Disease to live a healthy life.

For more information

For more information on how anyone can contribute towards raising awareness of Parkinson’s Disease as well as helping to research a possible cure in the future, Team Fox’s website has a list of fundraisers whose donations are directed towards this end. Additionally, the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation’s portal also has a brief list of fundraising events for the very same end. Residents of the UK can also discover a list of fundraisers on Parkinson’s UK’s website, both domestic and overseas.

Regardless of how someone chooses to direct their donation; the important thing is that it’s all put towards the same end and, when it comes to researching a possible cure for Parkinson’s Disease, every single dollar counts.