This Sunday, Virginia Tech senior Jessie Gunter will live out Ut Prosim by running in the Marine Corps Marathon to raise awareness about Parkinson’s disease.
Gunter, a 22-year-old international studies major, will be running with a four-member team to raise money for the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. This organization aims to fund research for a cure and increase awareness about the disease, as well as provide support for individuals living with Parkinson’s Disease.
Gunter has been personally affected by the illness because her father was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s disease more than years ago. As of now, no cure exists for the neurological disorder and no medication is available to halt its progression.
Gunter and her teammates connected with one another through the PDF Champions program, which helps volunteers get involved with fundraising efforts.
“I’ve never met them before, but we all have in common that we’ve been profoundly affected by Parkinson’s,” Gunter said.
Kelly Bresnahan, PDF’s Senior Development Coordinator for Events, runs the PDF Champions program.
“We’re here to support volunteers’ fundraisers in any way we can,” Bresnahan said. “We offer support any time they need it.”
Bresnahan is enthusiastic about the team that has been put in place and proud of their efforts thus far.
“We have four marathoners running. They’re from all over the country, which is fantastic," she said. "We have a collection of people and they all have a personal connection with Parkinson’s disease, so they’re all very excited for this weekend.”
The team originally pledged to raise $10,000 collectively for PDF. Gunter hoped to raise $2,000 individually. However, she and her teammates have already far exceeded their original fundraising goals.
“My fundraising goal is now $15,000. I’ve already gotten to about $12,000, so hopefully in these next couple of days I can meet my goal,” Gunter said.
Bresnahan said of the team, “They’ve collectively raised over $18,000 for the foundation and are still fundraising, so we hope that we will exceed $20,000. They will be fundraising after the event as well.”