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Parkinson's Quilt coming to Peabody

Posted by Sean Teehan  March 29, 2011 12:23 PM

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At a ceremony next Monday, Mayor Michael J. Bonfanti will proclaim April Parkinson's Awareness Month in the city as a portion of the Parkinson's Quilt is displayed at City Hall.

Much like the famed AIDS Memorial Quilt, the Parkinson's Quilt, an initiative led by the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, features panels made by people living with and affected by Parkinson’s. Contributors hail from 14 countries, including 46 of the 50 US states, and four of Canada’s 13 provinces, according to Parkinson's Disease Foundation data.

"Parkinson's is a major disease in the US," said Bonfanti, whose father was afflicted with the disease. "Its a big problem facing hundreds of thousands of citizens."

Diane Durkee, 71, of Peabody contacted the Parkinson's Disease Foundation after seeing a Facebook message inviting people to rent blocks of 16 panels which are 8 feet by 8 feet each, Durkee said. She rented the block that has a panel she made, said Durkee, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2001.

"Hopefully it will bring awareness and help educate the public that we need to find a cure," Durkee said in a telephone interview today. "A lot of people don't know much about the disease."

Increasing public awareness of the disease could inspire lawmakers to pass legislation to fund Parkinson's research, she said.

"If the city can make people aware of the problem, that's the name of the game," Bonfanti said.

The quilt, which has been displayed at locations across the country, will be at City Hall from April 4 until April 8. Mayor Bonfanti will kick off the showing with his proclamation at City Hall Monday morning at 10:30, a Parkinson's Disease Foundation statement said. Guest speakers include officials from Massachusetts General Hospital and the Parkinson's Action Network, among others.

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