Behind the scenes of Unity Walk

Unity Walk in the Park is the major annual fundraising initiative of Parkinson’s NSW to support vital research and services for people affected by Parkinson’s.

Everyone is welcome as walkers and supporters – friends, family, work mates, kids, and pets – particularly dogs. It is a great opportunity to come together to show support for loved ones and remember those whose lives are touched by Parkinson’s.

Over the past 11 years this event has attracted 16,700 participants who have helped Parkinson’s NSW raise more than $1,000,000.

Organising the annual Unity Walk is a major task managed each year by Events Executive Terri Herlings.

“No sooner has the dust settled after one Unity Walk, we start organising the next,” said Terri. “The process takes 11 months of planning, negotiation, paperwork, coordination and execution.”

Fortunately, Terri has the background for this complex task. Prior to joining Parkinson’s NSW two years ago, she had accumulated 12 years of experience in the staging of large cultural events in Australia and overseas. In one memorable year, Terri travelled to 36 different cities in 11 countries touring nine different shows.

Here she works with a mixed team of industry professionals who donate their time or discount their services, Parkinson’s NSW staff and Support Group members to bring the Unity Walk to life in Sydney, Wollongong and – increasingly – in a variety of regional locations.

Last year the large Walks in Sydney and Wollongong – along with nine regional locations – attracted more than 1,300 participants. This year there will be newly named Regional Walks in even more locations.

Nine months prior to the big event, Terri and her colleagues plan, develop and order branding, merchandise, instructions and guidelines for participants, fundraising tools and processes, and web, social media and print content to recruit participants and donors.

There is also a huge volume of paperwork required for insurance, permission from Local Government and other bodies, site safety and accessibility, transport, parking, and first aid support.

Three months prior Terri begins recruiting volunteers to help out on the day. The closer we draw to the Walk date, the longer the workdays of Terri and her team become.

“It’s hard work, but so worth it when we see the enjoyment and bonding people experience on the day,” said Terri. “I also get a kick out of the number of people who both participate and set up their fundraising online. Each one has a different story to tell about who they are walking for and what motivates them.”

Online fundraising for your participation in Unity Walk in the Park is quick and easy to set up. For more information and to be part of the day, go to www.unitywalkinthepark.com.au  

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