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Lea Dempsey, Seventh Grader from NJ, Designs Winning Parkinson’s Awareness T-Shirt

A digital drawing by 13-year-old Lea Dempsey of Princeton, NJ, came out on top in the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation’s (PDF) Seventh Annual Parkinson’s Awareness T-Shirt Design Contest. In PDF’s “kids only” contest, Ms. Dempsey’s design was a contender along with 20 other submissions from children ages five to 15-years-old. Her design was chosen as the winner by the general public in an online vote.

Ms. Dempsey’s design, “Join the team ending Parkinson’s,” features two people holding hands with PDF’s yellow tulip wrapped around them. She was inspired to enter the contest to honor her late grandfather Elwood Dempsey, who lived with Parkinson’s disease for more than a decade. Mr. Dempsey was a union painter by trade who also enjoyed painting recreationally.

“My grandfather was the kind of person that would always help someone in need. He was a very artistic man and I got my inspiration from him. I think he would be proud. This is the first time I’m putting my art out there and I’m proud to see my design help raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease,” says Ms. Dempsey.

A committee including members of the PDF Creativity and Parkinson’s Project (all artists living with Parkinson’s) selected her design as one of five finalists. It is now featured on PDF’s official 2016 Parkinson’s awareness t-shirt, which will be worn by thousands of people around the country to raise awareness, especially during April’s Parkinson’s Awareness Month.

“Lea grew up watching her grandfather’s Parkinson’s progress, and like the rest of us, there were times she felt powerless to help him.  She was the one person who always had the ability to make him smile. Knowing that Lea has contributed to PDF’s efforts to help other people who bear the weight of Parkinson’s has not only uplifted her, it has uplifted the entire Dempsey family,” says Lea’s mother, Kathleen Pagnutti.

“The diverse members of the PDF team all share one thing – a commitment to ending Parkinson’s.  Through her design, Ms. Dempsey illustrates this commitment beautifully, reminding us that children and young adults are very important members of this team,” said Robin Anthony Elliott, President of the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. “This April, we call upon others to be inspired by Lea’s example: to use our free tools to raise awareness locally and help PDF end Parkinson’s disease.”

About Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects nearly one million people in the US.  Although promising research is being conducted, there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s.

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