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Optimism 5K to raise money for Parkinson’s

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Lace up your running/walking shoes. It’s time for the 2013 New Mexico Optimism Spring Stroll for Parkinson’s.

The New Mexico chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association is holding a morning of activities in support of national efforts to raise money for research for finding a cure for the disease that afflicts about 9,000 people in New Mexico, and more than 1 million nationwide, said Colleen Frangos, program manager for the American Parkinson Disease Association’s information and referral center at the University of New Mexico.

The disease, a progressive disorder of the central nervous system, “is characterized by a decrease in spontaneous movements, gait difficulty, postural instability, rigidity and tremor,” according to information on the APDA’s website.

If you go
WHAT: Optimism 5K Run and 1-Mile Walk to benefit the American Parkinson Disease Association
WHEN: Sunday; 5K run at 9 a.m., 1-mile walk and run at 10 a.m.

WHERE: University of New Mexico Track & Field Complex, 1414 University SE
CONTACT: For information and registration, call 272-0472 or look up 

Frangos and students from several medical-related departments at UNM, such as pharmacy, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech and hearing sciences, are organizing the event. They are hoping to draw 150 runners and walkers. Last year, about 100 folks participated in the event, Frangos said.

In its third year, the event is adding games, educational and informational exhibits and health screenings.

Each year, April is nationally recognized as Parkinson Disease Awareness Month, and 30 cities throughout the nation – Albuquerque among them – are holding fundraising/awareness runs.

Sarah Pirio Richardson, a neurologist at University of New Mexico who specializes in movement disorders and Parkinson’s disease, said research is imperative in developing new treatments for people with the disease. For example, research in understanding falls and learning how to prevent them among those afflicted with the disease would be helpful.

While the money will fund national research, the local goal is to raise awareness of the New Mexico chapter of the APDA.

“We want the community to know resources are available on the local level,” Frangos said.

The information and referral center at UNM works with families by referring them to professionals such as physical therapists and others in the community who can help with such issues as memory loss, Frangos said. She also offers tips on dealing with the pains associated with Parkinson’s disease, such as rigidity.

“If they have a question about Parkinson’s, they call my office,” Frangos said.

Registration costs $25 until noon Thursday. The day of the event, registration is $30. And, Frangos encourages groups of friends or co-workers to form teams for the event. Team captains pay $5 to register. Organizers are encouraging participants to raise donations, as well.