Second annual UNMC Skate-a-thon to raise funds for Parkinson's research

Last year’s 24-hour skate raised $40,000; this year’s goal is $100,000

The University of Nebraska Medical Center is taking another run at putting Parkinson’s disease on ice.

On Jan. 27-28, the UNMC Ice Rink will host the second annual UNMC Skate-a-thon for Parkinson’s. Skaters are set to circle the ice for 24 consecutive hours – 5 p.m. to 5 p.m. – to raise money for Parkinson’s research at UNMC.

Last year’s event featured more than 2,000 attendees, 800 skaters and 150 volunteers. It raised $40,000 for:
· Clinical Parkinson's research by UNMC’s John Bertoni, M.D., Ph.D, and basic science Parkinson's research by UNMC's Howard Gendelman, M.D.;
· The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research; and
· The PHD Program (Parkinson's Health Development), a local program that offers affordable exercises and activities to improve the quality of life for persons with Parkinson's.

This year, the goal is to raise $100,000, and to again have people on the ice for all 24 hours. The public is invited to attend and participate. A $10 registration fee includes skate rental and ice access.

“We can handle up to 125 people on the ice at any time, and there is plenty of room for spectators,” said Keith Swarts, director of business services. Swarts also noted that people from all over the world are participating in the skate-a-thon by submitting a video or picture of themselves skating, along with a donation.

“We already have videos from several foreign countries,” Swarts said.

Meanwhile, a web cam will allow people from all over the world to see the skate-a-thon as well.
Highlights of the 2012 Skate-a-thon include opening and closing ceremonies, a “Pajama Skate,” and a “Shiver Skate” in light clothing in the spirit of a polar plunge.

There will also be various special performances – including two by the “Thriller Guys” – who last year did a sensational re-creation of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video on skates.

“Ice Bowling” – the skate-a-thon’s version of a dunk tank – will allow attendees the opportunity to bid to see a handful of UNMC campus “celebrities” slide across the ice and into bowling pins.
There also will be hot drinks, snacks and horse-rack rides available for small donations. DJs and guest emcees will keep the event moving.

The skate-a-thon is the idea of an Omaha couple, Ted and Colleen Wuebben, who hosted their own skate-a-thon for three years by flooding their back yard before the event moved to UNMC. Colleen was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2005 at the age of 52. Bertoni is her physician and a professor in the UNMC Department of Neurological Sciences.

The Wuebben family continues to serve as coordinators of the event, but UNMC and the University of Nebraska Foundation will be providing support on many different levels, Swarts said.

Skaters and non-skaters can register online or make a pledge at http://www.unmc.edu/publicrelations/skateathon.htm. Walk-in registration also will be available at the event.

Metro Health Services Federal Credit Union is a Triple Axel Sponsor of the UNMC Skate-a-thon for Parkinson’s. Sponsorships are still available. For information on becoming a sponsor, go to http://www.unmc.edu/publicrelations/skateathon_become-a-sponsor.htm.

Through world-class research and patient care, UNMC generates breakthroughs that make life better for people throughout Nebraska and beyond. Its education programs train more health professionals than any other institution in the state. Learn more at unmc.edu.

Schedule of Events
Friday - January 27, 2012

5 p.m. Opening Ceremony
6 - 10 p.m. Open Skating
7 p.m. Performance by the Country Kickers
9 p.m. Special Dance Performance by the “Thriller Guys” followed by Human Ice Bowling
10 p.m. - 12 a.m. Pajama Skate

Saturday - January 28, 2012
12 a.m.  Pajama Skate continued
1 a.m. Special Dance Performance by the “Thriller Guys”
2 a.m. Shiver Skate – In the spirit of a “polar plunge,” come skate 10 laps in very light clothing
3 - 10 a.m. Open Skating
5 a.m. Halfway there photo!
10 a.m. - 1 p.m.  Horse and Carriage rides. $5 per person
2 - 4 p.m. Open Skating
4 - 5 p.m. All Skate – Everyone on the ice for the last hour! Cupcakes and Coffee. Blanket collection for Winnebago, Santee, Rosebud and Pine Ridge American Indian reservations.
5 p.m. Closing Ceremonies – the final countdown, closing remarks and a confetti celebration!

Location -- UNMC's Ice Rink
The skate-a-thon will take place on UNMC's ice rink, located just north of the Sorrell Center on the northeast corner of 42nd and Emile streets.

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Facts about Parkinson’s disease:

· Is a motor system disorder resulting from the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells.
· The four primary symptoms of Parkinson’s are:
- tremor or trembling in hands, arms, legs, jaw and face;
- rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk;
- slowness of movement; and
- postural instability or impaired balance and coordination.
· Nearly one million Americans currently live with Parkinson’s and approximately 50,000 more are diagnosed each year.
· Affects about 3 percent of the population over the age of 65.
· Incidence will double in the next 40 years with the number of elderly people soaring.
· There is no cure for Parkinson’s, but a variety of medications provide relief from the symptoms. 


Tom O'Connor
UNMC Public Relations
(402) 559-4690 (office)
(402) 650-7063 (cell)