The University of Virginia’s 14th annual Pancakes for Parkinson’s event, organized by students and held Saturday on the South Lawn, is seeking to raise a record amount. Thus far, it has brought in more than $60,000 toward this year’s goal of $70,000. Last year, the team brought in $65,000.
In all, students have raised just over $500,000 since founding Pancakes for Parkinson’s at UVA in 2003. After the Michael J. Fox Foundation’s grassroots community outreach program, Team Fox, adopted the event in 2007 as one of its national fundraisers, dozens of college campuses and communities around the country have started their own pancake events.
Organizers say 100 percent of the proceeds go to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, named for the actor who was struck by the disease at the age of 29.
This year’s fundraiser has a slightly different focus than in years past. “What we wanted to stress at the event is that Parkinson’s disease is not an ‘old disease,’” Pancakes for Parkinson’s co-chair Reilly Sheehy said.
Sheehy said there is a huge population of young people, including some UVA students, who deal with the disease daily. Early-onset Parkinson’s is much more difficult to detect, he said, because younger patients rarely show external symptoms.
“It’s a disease that affects close to 10 million people worldwide, and one which currently doesn’t have a cure,” he said, adding that everyone on the UVA group’s executive team has been personally impacted by the disease, either through family, friends or colleagues.
“Given this stereotype, we wanted to bring support to Grounds and around Charlottesville, including to local Parkinson’s communities, the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, and to Michael J. Fox Foundation advocates to support these students and shed light onto this harsh reality,” he said.
Donations to the 2017 fundraising drive can be made through mid- to late November.
More than 300 people volunteered for this year’s event, which had 21 sponsors.