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European Unity Walk “can be huge”

Carol Walton

Monday 16 July 2012

It’s official. The EPDA’s European Unity Walk could become “huge” in the years to come, according to Carol Walton, the chief executive of the US Unity Walk.

Carol Walton – who is also chief executive of the US-based fundraising organisation Parkinson Alliance – spoke to the EPDA about her excitement at being invited to be a guest speaker at the inaugural event in Amsterdam in September, claiming she was “really very excited” to be involved in it.

"What the EPDA is trying to achieve is deeply significant for the Parkinson’s community – not just in Europe but around the world,” she said. “Parkinson’s organisations everywhere will be able to look at what we are achieving in the US and now what is happening in Europe and think, ‘We can do this too.’”

The US Unity Walk is now in its 19th year and regularly attracts more than 10,000 people to New York’s Central Park every April and has now raised more than $12 million for research into finding a cure for Parkinson’s. However, its debut event in 1994 saw just 200 participate and there’s “there’s no reason why the EPDA’s European version cannot raise the equivalent levels of awareness in the future,” she said.

The EPDA’s Danish member Parkinsonforeningen organised its first Unity Walk in May too – another patient organisation to be inspired by the US’s successes. Walton believes there “seems to be a growing trend in the Parkinson’s world to do positive things together. The Parkinson’s world needs events like these, and with the right levels of support and dedication, the European Unity Walk could be huge in years to come. It’s really very exciting to be involved in it.”

She added that anyone with an interest in Parkinson’s should be thinking of the European Unity Walk as a perfect networking event. “Everyone should be looking with a wider, more long-term perspective. It’s basically a one-stop shop. There will be people with Parkinson’s, healthcare professionals, industry representatives, politicians, the public and the media – all in the same place walking and talking together. It’ll be a great gathering and the perfect place to make new friends. Researchers, doctors and organisations, all trying to help people with Parkinson’s: it’s a very positive message.

"If you really want to do something and be a part of what’s important to the Parkinson’s community, this Unity Walk is going to be a great occasion to be a part of. People should be thinking, ‘How can I afford not to be a part of that?’”

You can register for the Unity Walk here.