April goes blue for Parkinson’s Disease Awareness

As spring makes its long-awaited appearance in Western New York, much of the region turns its attention to raising greater awareness of Parkinson’s disease. April is National Parkinson’s Awareness Month. The Parkinson’s Foundation, Western New York Chapter is promoting a number of programs and activities throughout the month, encouraging people to recognize the increasing presence of the disease in our area, the rapid rise in the rate of diagnosis and the need for an expansion of therapeutic and support programming.

The Buffalo area has welcomed the awareness efforts of the local Parkinson’s Foundation chapter, as many of the area’s landmarks will be lighting in blue for at least a portion of the month. Blue lights will grace the Electric Tower, Rockwell Hall at Buffalo State, the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, the Peace Bridge, Niagara Falls and many others. Buffalo Place has truly embraced the effort and will be illuminated in blue for the whole month of April. “It is amazing to see how many new places light up in blue each year,” said chapter president Vicky Glamuzina. “We are always looking for new places to get involved.” The chapter is selling blue light bulbs so that homes and neighborhoods can join in. The cost is $3 per bulb or 10 bulbs for $25.

A number of area businesses and organizations, including schools, offices, restaurants and retail locations are participating in a logo cutout program. These Parkinson’s “P’s” will be available for a small donation, and a Wear Blue Day is planned for April 27. Many workplaces allow their employees to dress down and to wear blue jeans and other casual blue clothing as a way to support the chapter’s awareness efforts. A wine tasting fundraiser is also planned for May 4 to help celebrate the success of Awareness Month. International wines, local craft beers and distilled spirits will accompany great food.

“As the rate of diagnosis rises and our Parkinson’s community continues to grow, the need for outreach expands,” states Chris Jamele, executive director for the local Foundation chapter. He mentions that estimates from more than a decade ago pegged the number of Parkinson’s cases in Western New York at around 9,000. “I’m certain that number has risen significantly since then,” he continued.

The Parkinson’s Foundation, Western New York Chapter provides support groups, therapeutic programming, educational opportunities and social events for those with a diagnosis, their care partners and family members. The chapter has served the region for more than twenty years in helping people live a better life with the disease as well as supporting efforts to find a cure. They can be reached by calling 449-3795, e-mailing to cjamele@npfwny.org, or visiting www.parkinson.org.