Get a Move On

2 local walks raise funds to fight Parkinson’s

By Jessica Laskey
April 2020

April is a busy month for Mary Beth Arjil. She is helping organize not one, but two fundraising walks to fight Parkinson’s disease—the 4th Annual Robert G. Smith Walk to COP (Cancel Out Parkinson’s) by the Parkinson Association of Northern California, and Moving Day by the Parkinson’s Foundation.

These walks raise crucial funds for research and support for people living with Parkinson’s disease. People like Mary Beth Arjil.

Seven years ago, Arjil saw her doctor about a persistent resting tremor and was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s disease at the age of 43. Though the diagnosis was shocking, she wasted no time getting involved with the Parkinson’s Foundation’s annual Moving Day—an event that not only raises money, but also connects patients and their families to others going through similar experiences. Since 2011, more than 130,000 people have participated in Moving Day events across the country, raising more than $27 million to improve care and advance research for a cure.

“When you’re first diagnosed, it’s very confusing and overwhelming,” says Arjil, who sees a neurologist specializing in movement disorders to help manage her symptoms through medication and exercise. “It’s a big help to have somebody you can talk to. That’s what’s so nice about Moving Day—every year I’ve met multiple people who are newly diagnosed and new to the walk who are glad to have somebody who understands what they’re going through. We all help each other.”

When Arjil was first diagnosed, the nearest Moving Day was in San Francisco. But three years ago, the organization decided to branch out and hold a walk in Sacramento—and contacted Arjil to help facilitate it. She now serves on the Moving Day committee managing event logistics and has attended the foundation’s national conference to drum up local volunteers.

“The people who work for the foundation are some of the best people I’ve ever met,” Arjil says. “They work so hard and are so committed to getting the word out and supporting volunteers, patients and families with a huge amount of resources.”

Arjil also wanted to do more to help her local community, so she started a support group in Carmichael for young onset patients like herself through the Parkinson Association of Northern California. The association provides resources such as support groups, respite for families, and seminars and training for fitness and physical therapy professionals on how to properly work with Parkinson’s patients. The group also holds the annual COP walk sponsored by the Sacramento Embarcadero Lions Club.

“Everybody probably knows somebody who has Parkinson’s disease,” Arjil says. “But it really hasn’t been at the forefront, so we’re trying get the word out about these much-needed fundraisers to help support patients and fund research. We’re all working toward a common goal.”

The 4th Annual Robert G. Smith Walk to COP will be held Saturday, April 4, at Maidu Regional Park at 1550 Maidu Drive in Roseville. To register, visit rgsmith.org. Moving Day will be held Saturday, April 18, at American River College at 4700 College Oak Drive. To register, visit movingdaywalk.org. For more information, visit panctoday.org and parkinson.org.

Jessica Laskey can be reached at jessrlaskey@gmail.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

 

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