Annual event to help battle Parkinson’s

The University of Southern Mississippi chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA) will be hosting Pancakes for Parkinson’s: Teen Wolf Edition Saturday, April 5 at Nitchampsburg Field.

In honor of this year’s third annual Pancakes for Parkinson’s event, attendees can grab a free pancake dinner and watch the 1985 film “Teen Wolf” starring Michael J. Fox.

Brittany Crosen, student vice president of philanthropy for the Southern Miss chapter of AMA, said that AMA hopes to raise up to $5,000 in donations for Parkinson’s research, a goal they met nearly halfway at the 2013 event.
“We do different themes, but it’s always Pancakes for Parkinson’s,” Crosen said. “Last year we did Batter Up for the Fight Against Parkinson’s, and we did it before a baseball game, and we did it baseball-themed.”

Crosen said the AMA team first got the idea for this event two years ago from Leisa Flynn, a marketing professor at USM whose husband has had Parkinson’s for 25 years.

“A few years ago I learned about the Pancakes for Parkinson’s event that has been held at the University of Virginia for more than 10 years and I thought it would be good for the students to learn about event planning and promotion by running one here,” Flynn said.

“Fortunately, the sponsors of the Student American Marketing Association thought it was a good idea too. The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research does a great job in learning more about the disease, and their work has led to a number of new treatments.”

Fox is a known leader in facilitating Parkinson’s research, having been diagnosed himself, and any voluntary donations given this year will go toward the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

According to michaeljfox.org,“though he would not share the news with the public for another seven years, Fox was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s disease in 1991. Upon disclosing his condition in 1998, he committed himself to the campaign for increased Parkinson’s research.”

Flynn said she has personally written to Fox to express gratitude for all of his philanthropic efforts. She said she admires the actor’s strength and willingness to help.

“I have written to Michael J. Fox and what I told him was, ‘thank you.’ I know firsthand that Parkinson’s saps your energy and makes stress harder to handle and I know all of his energy and efforts on behalf of people with Parkinson’s has helped in many ways. He is a hero to me and to my husband too.”

Flynn said she would encourage individuals who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s to not give up hope.

“Strong people like my husband learn to face every day with optimism and find fun wherever it might be hiding. Parkinson’s is not a death sentence. It is a stumbling block,” Flynn said.

Flynn said she looks forward to seeing the Pancakes for Parkinson’s event flourish and grow each year by possibly partnering with other student groups. Crosen says the AMA at USM is already thinking about what theme they will choose next year. She said they might possibly continue showing Michael J. Fox movies, but nothing has been officially decided yet.

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