(Contest Nominee) PARKINSON ASSOCIATION OF THE ROCKIES Helps Empower Those Living with PD

Citywide Banks employees have nominated seven Colorado charities to compete in its Charity Hand-Up Contest taking place on Facebook from July 7-21, 2014. The community is invited to vote for a nominee and enter prize drawings. $8,000 in cash donations will be split between nominees based on the voting results.  Facebook Voting Page

The official mission of Parkinson Association of the Rockies (PAR) is to support, strengthen and empower the Parkinson’s community in Colorado. But, as PAR executive director Cheryl Siefert expresses, more succinctly, it’s to create a community. “You create a community by empowering all the individuals living with Parkinson disease,” she says.

And to empower, you need to educate. And that’s one of the primary goals of PAR. The organization works to educate the Parkinson community on all facets of living with the degenerative disease. Every year it offers two major conferences and about 24 smaller topical workshops on subjects such as speech and swallowing, high intensity exercise and cognitive impairment.

PAR began in 1981 simply as a support group run out of the University of Colorado Hospital. Others in Colorado liked the idea and started similar support groups. Then, collectively, they decided to add an educational component, and by the end of the year they had formed a 501(c)(3) nonprofit so that they could raise money to support their programs. The group was 100% volunteer run until about ten years ago, when it hired a few part-time staff.  It is within the past 5 years that PAR has added full-time staff members.

Parkinson’s Disease, or PD, is a progressive and degenerative brain disorder that affects an individual’s muscle movement. It usually affects people over 60, but about 4% of individuals are diagnosed under age 50. There are about 1 million people living with PD in the US, and about 17,000 in Colorado.

Siefert explains that PD is the second most common neurological disease among adults in the US, after Alzheimer’s disease, but that few people really understand it. “It’s more than the tremor or the jerky movements that Michael J. Fox has,” Siefert explains. “What often bother individuals living with PD are the non-motor issues such as anxiety or depression; swallowing and speech issues, and dry eyes that result from not enough blinking. Also, because a person’s movements are so unpredictable, it’s challenging to know how to plan your day.” Additionally, she says, about 40 to 80 % of those with PD will develop some sort of cognitive impairment.

In addition to the educational programs, PAR continues to run support groups all over Colorado. They also coordinate about 16 different weekly exercise classes such as music and dance, high intensity and low intensity workouts, and basic balance and strength classes. Exercise, Siefert explains, is as important as medication because it helps slow the progression of symptoms. Check out this recent Fox31 spotlight on the benefits of dance classes for PD.

And since most people with PD have mobility issues, PAR offers an equipment loan program where people can try different walkers or other pieces of equipment to find the right fit for their needs. “We don’t only provide information but tools that empower people living with PD,” Siefert explains.

PAR also offers in-home visits from a licensed clinical social worker to ensure patients are receiving comprehensive treatment and care. In-home evaluations are individualized to meet the needs of each patient and their healthcare providers.

The nonprofit, with the help of one of its board members, has also developed a soon-to-be launched smartphone app called PD Life. This is the second version of the mobile app. The first version for iPhones acted as sort of medication reminder, since PD patients can take up to 30 pills per day to treat the disease. This newest version includes tools for monitoring exercise and diet.

Siefert says they are very lucky to have a core group of volunteers for the fundraising events they have throughout the year, but they often need volunteers for administrative work. The biggest challenge is meeting the financial requirements to keep funding the organization’s growth and expansion of services.

A $5,000 donation from Citywide Banks would go toward, believe it or not, the launch of a Boxing for PD program! “When people hear boxing the first thing they think of is, doesn’t Muhammad Ali have Parkinson’s? Yes, he does,” explains Siefert. “And, all the recent literature and studies show that boxing improves balance and increases speed of movement, and those things are critical. We aren’t talking about head-to-head boxing, but rather training on bags etc.”

For more information on ways to donate your time or money, please visit www.ParkinsonRockies.org or follow PAR on Facebook.

How to Give Parkinson Association of the Rockies a Hand-Up

  1. “LIKE” THEM ON FACEBOOK during the July contest (charity nominee with biggest % increase in Facebook followers will receive an extra $500 donation from Citywide Banks)
  2. VOTE FOR THEM on contest voting page at Citywide Banks Facebook page (charity nominee with most votes will get $5,000 donation from Citywide Banks)
  3. POST A COMMENT about what you like about PAR on Citywide Banks Facebook page
  4. SHARE posts about this contest and PAR with your family, friends, and coworkers (tell them to support PAR)

About the Citywide Banks Charity Hand-Up Contest
For more than 50 years, family owned, Colorado focused Citywide Banks has been a passionate champion of our local charities. Our Charity Hand-Up Contests spotlight seven Colorado causes nominated by bank employees. Then, based on a 15-day community vote on Facebook, Citywide Banks splits $8,000 in donations to the nominees. The charity with the most votes receives the top $5,000 donation. Contest voters can also enter to win great prizes, including dinner for two at a top Denver restaurant. Official prize drawing rules are available by clicking here. Full contest details are at www.CitywideBanks.com/contest/.

How to Cast Your Vote – July 7-21, 2014
The contest is open to the general public within the Denver/Boulder community (non-customers welcome to participate; no purchase necessary). The easiest way to vote is online by clicking the “Charity Contest” tab on the Citywide Banks Facebook page at  www.Facebook.com/citywidebanks. Users will need to “like” the bank’s Facebook page to submit a vote/entry online. One vote/entry per person is permitted during the 15-day contest. After voting on Facebook, users can use the sharing buttons to easily invite their Facebook friends to vote for their favorite charity. There is even an added bonus prize drawing for those voters that post the contest on their own Facebook timeline.

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