Skate-a-thon for Parkinson's set for Jan. 24-25

by Tom O'Connor, UNMC public relations | January 14, 2020

Image with caption: Skaters showed up in force in 2019 for the Skate-a-thon for Parkinson's.

Skaters showed up in force in 2019 for the Skate-a-thon for Parkinson's.

The 2020 UNMC Skate-a-thon for Parkinson's will be held Jan. 24 and 25 at the UNMC Ice Rink. The event, which runs from 2 p.m. Jan. 24 to 2 p.m. Jan 25, is open to the public.

For the seventh straight year, the skate-a-thon will be held in memory of its founder, Colleen Wuebben, a person with Parkinson's who died in 2013 at the age of 60. Colleen's husband, Ted, and their five children have continued the tradition of the skate-a-thon since Colleen's death.

Facts about Parkinson's disease

  • It 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.
  • As many as one million Americans currently live with Parkinson's. This is more than the combined number of people with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Lou Gehrig's disease.
  • Approximately 60,000 more are diagnosed each year, and this number doesn't reflect the thousands of cases that go undetected.
  • An estimated seven to 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson's disease.
  • Affects about 3 percent of the population over the age of 65.
  • Men are 1.5 times more likely to have Parkinson's than women.
  • Incidence will double in the next 40 years with the number of elderly people soaring.
  • Incidence of Parkinson's increases with age, but an estimated 4 percent of people with Parkinson's are diagnosed before the age of 50.
  • There is no cure for Parkinson's, but a combination of medications, therapy, and exercise provide relief from the symptoms.

Colleen was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2005 at the age of 52. Three years later, the Wuebbens came up with the idea for the skate-a-thon. For the first three years, the Wuebbens flooded their back yard and held the event at their home.

In 2011, as a way to expand the event to more people, the Wuebbens moved the skate-a-thon to the UNMC Ice Rink.

Proceeds go toward clinical and basic science Parkinson's research at UNMC and to Parkinson's Nebraska, a 501(c)3 dedicated charitable organization committed to helping people in Nebraska and the surrounding areas who are affected by Parkinson's disease. Parkinson's Nebraska was founded in 2005 by Colleen Wuebben when she was first diagnosed.

Skaters can register as an individual, family (two adults and up to eight children from the same household), or as a Rock the Clock team member. Rock the Clock teams are groups committed to being on the ice for the full 24 hours. Team captains rally family, friends, and coworkers to join a team and divide up the 24 hours to have a representative on the ice at all times throughout the event.

Skaters are encouraged to rally their "cheerleaders" to pledge a donation in their honor. Each registered skater will receive a pledge form within a few days of registering online. The individual, family, and Rock the Clock team that raises the most money will win a prize.

The cost to participate in the Skate-a-Thon is $15 for an individual, $50 for a family, and $15 per Rock the Clock team member. The registration fee includes skate rental and unlimited skating. Online registration will close at midnight on Thursday, Jan. 23. Walk-in registration also will be available at the event.

Skaters and non-skaters can register or make a pledge to Parkinson's Nebraska by clicking here. To make a donation to the University of Nebraska Foundation to go toward Parkinson's research at UNMC, click here.

Parkinson's Nebraska is on a mission to be the primary source of Parkinson's disease education, support and services in Nebraska. The organization supports the Parkinson's community by increasing accessibility to exercise classes, providing resources to support groups, spreading awareness and education, and providing professional development trainings to exercise and health care service providers across the state.

"We are really excited with what is happening at Parkinson's Nebraska," said Ted Wuebben, chairman of the organization's 13-member board of directors. "We have more resources than ever before and think we are in a position to truly make a difference in our community."

Thanks in large part to proceeds raised at the previous skate-a-thons, Wuebben said Parkinson's Nebraska has been able to expand its services across Nebraska. In July 2019, Parkinson's Nebraska hosted a Delay the Disease training in Grand Island, Nebraska, to teach 55 exercise and health professionals how to design and implement a Parkinson's exercise program.

Delay the Disease is an evidence-based, Parkinson's-specific exercise program that targets Parkinson's symptoms and can slow the progression of the disease. As a result of the training, there are 21 new Parkinson's exercise classes across the state with 14 of the classes serving rural, underserved communities.

The opening ceremony will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 24. Closing ceremonies will begin at 1 p.m. on Jan. 25. Montez and Shari Stone, on-air morning show hosts on 99.9 KGOR-FM between 5:30 a.m. and 10 a.m., will emcee the opening and closing ceremonies. Montez is a member of the Parkinson's Nebraska board.

The skate-a-thon will be live streamed at this link.

The nine previous skate-a-thons at UNMC have netted more than $210,000 in proceeds. More than 500 skaters have participated in each of the last five skate-a-thons.

Wuebben said he anticipates that several skaters will once again attempt to skate all 24 hours this year.

Volunteers are needed for the event. If you wish to volunteer, register here.

The UNMC Ice Rink is located east of 42nd Street, about halfway between Dewey Avenue and Emile Street. A heated tent will allow skaters and spectators a place to stay warm. There also will be hot drinks, food and snacks. Emcees will keep the event moving, as skaters groove to non-stop music.

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