Left to right: Ron Cohen with Helen Matthews, Tierney Saccavino and David Sangster (World Parkinson Congress Ambassador)

Director of research, Dr Richard Wyse and I undertook an inspiring if whirlwind trip to the US at the end of April to meet researchers and fellow Parkinson’s research funders ahead of September’s all important annual Linked Clinical Trials meeting where potential disease modifying treatments are prioritised for clinical trials by the international Linked Clinical Trials committee of Parkinson’s experts.

My trip culminated in returning to New York where I had the privilege of taking part in the Unity Walk. Thousands of people living with Parkinson’s supported and cheered on by family and friends undertook the 1.4 mile walk in Central Park. 

Now in its 25th year, every penny raised by teams of walkers is directed towards Parkinson’s research via a number of partner foundations in the US. It was a remarkable event – the sense of community and camaraderie was tangible, and infectious.  Everyone, be they from the partner booths, the cheering squads or the participants themselves, was unified by one simple vision, to raise much needed funds and awareness for research. 

A number of teams return year after year, rain or shine. One team now walking for the 11th year running raised over $100,000. Personally this was a fantastic opportunity to see friends and Parkinson’s advocates, many of whom had travelled huge distances from all over the US, as well as colleagues from the Michael J Fox Foundation, World Parkinson Congress, NINDS, Parkinson’s Foundation and Acorda. In the glorious Spring sunshine in Central Park surely there was a palable feeling of determination, and more importantly, hope.