Brown recognizes April as Parkinson's Awareness Month
On Thursday, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown joined with members of the National Parkinson Foundation of Western New York in proclaiming April as Parkinson's Awareness Month. The U.S. Congress recognized the designation nationwide in 2013. The local recognition comes in light of recent studies that show Parkinson's disease strikes the Western New York area especially hard. Portions of the eight-county region lead the nation in the prevalence of Parkinson's diagnoses.
Welcomed into the mayor's chambers in City Hall, the contingent from NPFWNY joined Brown at the podium. The mayor recognized there are approximately 1.5 million people living with Parkinson's disease, and that nearly 9,000 of those patients reside in Western New York.
"The cause of Parkinson's disease is unknown and, although there is presently no cure, there are treatment options, such as medication and surgery to manage its symptoms," Brown said.
He noted NPFWNY "is dedicated to improving the quality of life for the Parkinson's community."
In the proclamation, the mayor mentioned blue is the color of hope. NPFWNY is promoting a "Wear Blue Day" April 24, encouraging everyone to wear as much blue as they can that day to help raise awareness.
Speaking of hope, NPFWNY's annual wine tasting, "A Night of Hope for Parkinson's," will cap off the night of April 24, as will the lighting of the Peace Bridge in blue. Niagara Falls also will be lit in blue at 10 p.m. April 18. Beginning April 6, the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens will light its central dome in blue for the rest of the month. This is the first time the gardens have illuminated the dome for a cause, proving the importance of raising awareness of Parkinson's in this area.
The reasons for the concentration of Parkinson's patients in Western New York are still a matter of study. NPFWNY board member Pat Weigel said, "There are more people suffering with cancer, diabetes or even Alzheimer's, which is why people might be more familiar with those ailments. But the diagnosis of Parkinson's among our families and friends locally happens far too often in comparison to other places. This makes awareness a very important issue."
Brown closed out the ceremony by saying blue ribbons will be sold around the region all month long to raise awareness of Parkinson's, as well as funding for NPFWNY and its programs to help the patients, caregivers and families dealing with Parkinson's in this area.