As executive director of the American Society of Magazine Editors in New York, NY for the past 18 years, Marlene Kahan has given and received many awards. But her proudest moment is yet to come, she told Neurology Now, when she will be honored with this year's Alan Bonander Humanitarian Award for her contribution to the Parkinson's disease community. She will receive the award on Saturday, April 26, 2008, at the 14th Parkinson's Unity Walk in New York City's Central Park.
“I am doing it for no other reason than knowing I can help myself and others, and to be rewarded and recognized for that is incredible,” Kahan says.
Her involvement with the Parkinson's Unity Walk, a grassroots organization that raises awareness and funds for Parkinson's disease research, began nearly four years ago after her diagnosis with early-onset Parkinson's disease at age 52. While researching the disease, she learned about Parkinson's Unity Walk, a national event that takes place in Central Park each year. Raising money to find a cure has helped her to tap into newfound inner strength.
Two years ago she formed Team Mag Queen, with a fundraising goal of $1,000. She raised $60,000 that first year, and has raised nearly $200,000 to date. “What I liked is that 100 percent of donations goes to research,” Kahan says.
Inspired by Lance Armstrong's Live Strong campaign, Kahan worked with her friend Dave Stevenson, a designer, to create a bracelet called “Inspiration” (available at artinjection.com/store/htm).
Kahan also developed a public service announcement for Parkinson's in 2006 with Carol Walton, CEO of the New Jersey-based Parkinson Alliance and the Parkinson's Unity Walk. She connected with those in her industry to initiate the “Punch Out Parkinson's” campaign at a star-studded gala, including Muhammad Ali's daughter Maryum “May May” Ali.
Meanwhile, she continues to oversee programs at the American Society of Magazine Editors, including the National Magazine Awards and the Magazine Internship Program. How does she fulfill her work duties while also taking care of her Parkinson's?
“Two or three times during the day—when my medicine wears off, the tremors come about, and before the medicine kicks in again—I need to rest. But everything gets done. Somehow I work through the symptoms.”
Her advice for NN readers? “I think the most important thing is to make sure that anyone with Parkinson's sees a real movement-disorders specialist, someone who treats a large population of Parkinson's patients,” she says. Exercise, which may help reduce the symptoms of the disease, is also key, Kahan says.
And if you're in New York in April, join the 10,000 participants at Unity Walk. (To learn more, visit unitywalk.org.) Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is the partner and premier sponsor of the Parkinson's Unity Walk for the eighth year. After a new one-year record in 2007 of raising over $1,700,000 for Parkinson's research, this year's dream is to raise $2,000,000. “It's a way for people to come together and feel better about themselves,” says Kahan, “and do good in the interim.”