Pancakes for Parkinson's helps raise funds for disease research

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Advertising senior Dominic Ferrario and plan II psychology junior Elyssa Klann serve pancakes during the 3rd annual Pancakes for Parkinson’s fundraiser benefiting the Michael J. Fox Foundation in Gregory Plaza Wednesday morning.

Photo Credit: Emily Ng | Daily Texan Staff

Sitting in James Vick’s multivariable calculus class, students may notice that Vick does not write on the board very much. Vick suffers from Parkinson’s disease, a condition affecting the central nervous system that causes uncontrollable jitteriness and shakiness. 

Although young adults are usually not the key demographic for Parkinson’s disease, UT students showed support for Parkinson's disease research at Pancakes for Parkinson’s 3rd annual fundraiser Wednesday at Gregory Plaza. The fundraiser is held in honor of Vick, whose daughter Stuart Smith first thought to organize the fundraiser shortly after her father was diagnosed. 

Vick, mathematics professor and a former vice president for student affairs, was diagnosed five years ago with the disease and since then organizations from Texas Round Table to RecSports have become actively involved in raising funds to research cures for Parkinson’s disease.

Vick said living with Parkinson’s comes with a constant awareness that something is wrong.

“I have stiffness and balance issues, but my symptoms have not been as severe as what others have,” Vick said.

Vick said that there is currently no known cause for the disease, although there is speculation it is genetic or a result of environmental issues. Even though the disease is known for getting worse before it gets better, Vick said he tries not to let the condition hinder him.

“There are lots worse things to have than Parkinson’s disease … I don’t let it stop me,” Vick said. 

Texas Round Table, a group comprised of presidents from service groups on campus, has hosted Pancakes for Parkinson’s since it first began at UT and has raised thousands of dollars in efforts to contribute to research on Parkinson’s disease, said Dominic Ferrario, advertising senior and president of the group.

Ferrario said the group aims to raise $20,000 this year after raising $17,000 the past two years. Ferrario said one in three people will eventually be diagnosed with the disease and it affects millions of elderly adults.

“This is the one time a year where all the service organizations across campus can come together to work for one common goal,” Ferrario said.

Pancakes for Parkinson’s is held on college campuses nationwide and benefits the Michael J. Fox Foundation, an organization that devotes itself to research to help find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease. 

“I think it’s a great thing,” government freshman Annie Meyers, whose uncle suffers from Parkinson’s, said. “I think scientists will be able to find a cure for Parkinson’s, it’s just a matter of when. Therefore, the more research that they are able to do, the closer I feel that they are to finding a cure.”