Last year, UNM physical therapy student Susan Halbig ran in the American Parkinson Disease Association 5k race to honor her father.

“My father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s six years ago,” she said. “For me, a way to support my dad rather than just being at home with him was to run it.”

Halbig is now one of the volunteers who organized this year’s APDA Optimism Spring Stroll, to be held Sunday in UNM’s Track and Field Complex. She said that as of Tuesday, about 150 people have already registered for the event.

Halbig said the event, which will feature a 5k run and a one-mile stroll, will raise awareness about the disease.

“A lot of people are not familiar with Parkinson’s disease other than what they see with Michael J. Fox,” she said. “I think this event is important because it shows the reality of what the disease is like.”

Halbig said a number of medical departments at UNM, such as the College of Pharmacy and the College of Nursing, will be present at the event to provide free services for people affected with the disease and give information to the general public.

New Mexico APDA Program Manager Colleen Frangos said about 1 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, some 9,000 of whom are New Mexicans.

Frangos said all proceeds from the event will go toward the APDA’s funding for Parkinson’s research. She said the APDA is still hoping to find a cure for the disease.

“There is no cure currently for Parkinson’s disease, and there is no documented known cause,” she said. “Research is essential in figuring out this disease.”

Frangos said enough resources already exist in the state for people with Parkinson’s disease and their families. She said people can find services for those afflicted by the disease at UNM’s Information and Referral Center, and can also contact APDA for educational resources.

Frangos said her organization aims to educate more people about these resources through the event.

“It’s a great opportunity to increase awareness about the disease itself,” she said. “More people can be aware of the services and the resources that are offered to people with Parkinson’s, and to their families, on a local level.”

Halbig said she hopes the event will encourage people to continue fighting the disease.

“Having it happen to me personally, I see a lot of the emotional side of it and how that can affect therapy,” she said. “I’m hoping this offers hope to families.”

Optimism Spring Stroll for Parkinson’s
UNM Track and Field Complex
5k begins at 9 a.m.
one-mile stroll begins at 10 a.m.
$15.75 for students
$25 for adults
Register at