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Taking A Bite Out Of Parkinson’s

Superdog surveyed the scene, his red cape flowing in the gentle breeze on a crisp October weekend at Marjorie Post Park in Massapequa. Hundreds had arrived, pumpkins and hot dogs, taco dogs, cowdogs and cheerleaders, nights in shining armor with their princesses, and even a dog wearing a yarmulke.

 

Superdog and his friends were furry guests of honor at the 11th annual Paws for Parkinson’s walkathon. The event was the brainchild of Eileen Giannetti, the coordinator of the Nassau County Branch of the Parkinson’s Association, who was there with Julie Garofalo, the Suffolk county coordinator. Gianetti volunteers at the animal shelter in the Town of Hempstead and thought it would be a good idea to merge a dog walkathon with fundraising for Parkinson’s, and the event has grown over the years. 

 

“Our goal was to reach $35,000 for research to cure Parkinson’s Disease and I think today we have exceeded that,” said Giannetti. “We also wanted to promote adoptions of pets from animal shelters.” 

 

Participants came from all over Long Island and as far away as Westchester, Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. The event was also sponsored by several local hospitals, businesses and pet stores who were handing out samples to the participants. 

 

“The Town of Hempstead came with shelter dogs trying to get these dogs good homes,” said Garofolo. 

 

With live music entertaining the crowd, hundreds of people and costumed dogs strolled the beautiful park for the mile and half walk. There were family members in wheelchairs, children in strollers and walkers wearing photos of loved ones afflicted by this disease. One of them was Joan Spielberg of Syosset, with her two Burmese Mountain dogs Karma and Snickers, who had a photo of her dad Robert Schwam, around her neck. He died of Parkinson’s many years ago. 

 

“We have been coming to this walk for many years in honor of my dad, who was a great guy, but this is the first time I have had a picture of him with me so I feel like he is with me today,”  she said. 

 

Supervisor John Venditto, whose brother-in-law had Parkinson’s, had high praise for the organization and the community for creating this event. 

 

“This kind of event shows why it is so great living in the Town of Oyster Bay,” he said. “This is a coming together of people who voluntarily and unselfishly are doing the right thing by their community for a great cause. The destructive and restrictive effects Parkinsons has, not only on the lives of the patients, but of those around them.”  

 

Venditto enthusiastically supports the program each year by allowing the park, which normally doesn’t permit pets, to have their event here each year.

 

After the walk participants competed for the funniest costume, the best trick, the best overall costume, and owner pet look a like contest. Prizes baskets were donated by local pet stores. While not every one won a prize they were winners for showing up to help with raising money for a great cause. The organization will continue to accept donations over the next thirty days at which time the top fundraiser will be determined. To donate to the organization and to learn more about it go to www.liapda.org.