Dancing Stars Shine in Ayer Neuroscience Institute Fundraiser for Parkinson’s Disease

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The stars were shining bright during the Hartford HealthCare Ayer Neuroscience Institute’s Second Annual Stars Dancing for Parkinson’s event on May 10 at the Hartford Marriott Downtown.

Eight amateur dancers, including a Parkinson’s patient and leaders from across Hartford HealthCare, teamed up with their professional dance partners to compete and raise money to benefit the wellness programs at  the David and Rhoda Chase Family Movement Disorder Center.  The sold out event raised $50,000.

Dr. J. Antonelle “Toni” de Marcaida, Medical Director of the Chase Family Movement Disorder Center, thanked supporters and told the crowd that her patients’ will and determination to thrive after diagnosis is what gives her team the strength to remain focused in the fight against Parkinson’s disease.

“We do what we do because we have seen them fight just as tenaciously, just as unyieldingly, just as indomitably through the years that they’ve had to battle Parkinson’s  and its relentless effect on their lives,” she said.  “We will not back down.  We will not quit.  We will prevail because we fight with our co-warriors who exercise every day, dance every week and celebrate all of life’s joyous moments.”

With a theme of Classic Rock, dancers performed routines with the help of hits from Queen, Bon Jovi, Elton John and Janis Joplin.  East Region President Donna Handley took home the top prize with a joyous interpretation of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.”   Ray Figlewski, diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2012, was named the fan favorite for his stellar performance to Prince’s “Little Red Corvette.”

Along with the crowd vote, dancers were critiqued by celebrity judges Hartford HealthCare President and Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Flaks, Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney, Ph.D., Jocelyn Maminta, from News8 and Jonathan Roberts of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.

Learn more about the innovation treatment options available for Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders here

In addition to Donna Handley, dancers included:

  • Andrew Carroll, service line director of oncology for the Hartford HealthCare Medical Group (HHCMG).
  • Michael Daglio, senior vice president and chief transition officer, Fairfield Region, Hartford HealthCare.
  • Andrea Dash, director of planning and communications at Hartford HealthCare.
  • Ray Figlewski, patient advocate.
  • Therese Hannoush McCarthy, a member of the community.
  • Dr. Camelia Lawrence, a breast surgeon at the Hospital of Central Connecticut.
  • Michael Nappi, vice president, Community Network-Independence at Home.

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