National Parkinson Foundation Announces Parkinson’s Superstar’s Winners

Release date: 4/9/2012

Parkinson’s Superstars promote understanding of the disease and raise awareness during Parkinson’s Awareness Month and all year long

MIAMI — April 9, 2012 — The National Parkinson Foundation (NPF) has selected Allison Smith-Conway from Laguna Niguel, CA, and Wendell Cook from Sioux Falls, SD, as the winners of its outstanding Parkinson’s Superstar prize for their exemplary contributions to the Parkinson’s community.

NPF began a nationwide call for Parkinson’s Superstars nominations in February 2012, in a move to honor individuals who make a difference in the Parkinson’s community during April, Parkinson’s Awareness Month. Nominations are currently being showcased on the NPF website.

Allison received nominations from Karen Procopio, J.P. Smith, and Cindy Smith. Diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s at age 32 after a battle with colon cancer, Allison wrote a book about her struggle with illness, “I Am Not Contagious.” She is described as a tireless advocate for the Parkinson’s community and an innovator in creating new programs and wellness classes to help people with Parkinson’s live a full life. Read more about why Allison is a Parkinson’s Superstar.

Wendell Cook was nominated by his son, Stephen Cook. Wendell turned two of his passions into ways of helping his local community; he founded Team Wendell, a cycling team that raises money for Habitat for Humanity, and created the “Parkinson’s Art Cart,” an art therapy project for people with Parkinson’s. Wendell and his wife of 66 years, Dolores, regularly attend and help with the National Parkinson Foundation South Dakota Chapter’s support groups. Watch a video about Wendell to find out more about why he is a Parkinson’s Superstar.

Allison and Wendell are among over 100 Parkinson’s Superstars who were nominated from across the United States. They included people with Parkinson’s, caregivers, healthcare providers and supporters who have worked tirelessly to help advance the fight against Parkinson’s disease. In addition to the NPF website, Superstar stories will be shared on the NPF Facebook page during Parkinson’s Awareness Month and at the NPF booth at Parkinson’s Unity Walk on April 28th in New York City.

“These stories will help us raise even more awareness about Parkinson’s through people that live with it every day,” said Leilani Pearl, NPF Director of Communications. “Each one of the nominees is a testament to the many ways in which our community is working to overcome the challenges posed by the disease and rise above them in extraordinary ways—their stories deserve to be told.”

Parkinson’s Superstars is one of several NPF initiatives designed to draw attention to the impact of the disease during Parkinson’s Awareness month.  NPF will host outreach booths at Parkinson’s Unity Walk on April 28th in New York City and at the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), Brain Fair in New Orleans, LA on April 21st. A limited edition, “Move to Beat Parkinson’s” awareness bracelet is also available free with a gift of $25 or more to NPF during the month of April.

About Parkinson's Disease
Affecting an estimated one million Americans and four to six million worldwide, Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s and is the 14th leading cause of death in the United States. It is associated with a progressive loss of motor control (e.g., shaking or tremor at rest and lack of facial expression) as well as non-motor symptoms (e.g., depression and anxiety). There is no cure for PD, and 50,000 to 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States alone.

About the National Parkinson Foundation
Founded in 1957, the National Parkinson Foundation's mission is to improve the quality of care for people with Parkinson's disease through research, education and outreach. NPF has funded more than $164 million in care, research and support services. For more information about NPF, visit