Don your rabbit ears, lace up your sneakers and join thousands of others to help fight Parkinson’s disease. The Philly Rabbit Run will take place at the Philadelphia Zoo on the day before Easter, April 20. 

Philly Rabbit Run

The Philly Rabbit Run will begin at 7:45 a.m. on April 20. Registration is $42 (this increases after March 30) and includes free admission to the zoo and free rabbit ears, t-shirt and an awesome post event party with special appearances. In only five years, this run/walk is gaining popularity. It has been featured on local TV, in addition to being listed in publications around the nation including, Toms of Maine’s blog, “Great Spring Road Races to Kick Off Running Season” in the US. It is anticipated that thousands of fitness runners and walkers will gather at the Philadelphia Zoo in an effort to shake off Parkinson’s disease and help fund research.  Click here for more information or to register.

The Backstory

When fifty-year old Delaware Attorney, Jodi Cianci went to see her doctor almost nine years ago for a check on her shoulder pain, she never imaged she would leave with the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. At the time, the only option available to relieve symptoms was a medication called L-Dopa.  She researched the risks and learned the medication doesn’t stop the progression of the disease but only replaces the lost dopamine to help with the symptoms. Over time, it loses its effectiveness and leaves some patients with devastating side effects. Jodi and her husband sought out information about alternative therapies. They stumbled upon Dr. Jay Alberts at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio who was showing promising results with the simple act of moving.

Dr. Alberts was conducting research on vigorous exercise for those diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Alberts’ study showed a 35% reduction in symptoms of those with PD by the simple act of pedaling a bicycle at 80-90 rpms for 45 minutes, three times a week. Jodi started a version of the program. After only 6 weeks of cycling, Jodi noticed the pain in her shoulder was gone and her fine motor skills improved.  There was also a noticeable change of her Micrographia, which is an abnormally small, cramped handwriting. Further, developing research reveals the potential role of exercise in promoting neuroplasticity and repair for people with Parkinson. Vigorous exercising like running may even slow the progression. It is theorized that exercise can change the brain in a way that a pill cannot.

Today, Jodi is still not on the dopamine replacement medication but uses high intensity exercise to control her symptoms. If it had not been for this research, Jodi said, she would have probably been placed on a dopamine replacement therapy and succumbed to the disease process, side effects included. Jodi and her husband Chris needed to share this information. Together they co-founded Shake It Off Inc.

Shake It Off Inc.

Shake It Off Inc. was founded by Jodi Cianci and her husband, Chris to fund research and promote awareness of exercise therapy for Parkinson’s disease. The non-profit helps fund research in areas not typically supported in an effort to give Parkinson’s patients back their lives until the cure is found. They have funded PD research locally at the University of Delaware, as well as the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Shake It Off, Inc. Shake It Off, Inc. raises money through fun fitness fundraisers like the annual Philly Rabbit Run at the Philadelphia Zoo.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive movement disorder. Over one million Americans live with Parkinson’s disease, which is more than the combined number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is a chronic, degenerative, neurological disorder whose symptoms can progress from mild shaking to complete physical incapacitation. In the United States 60,000 new cases of PD will be diagnosed this year alone. Parkinson can strike at any age. One of the youngest diagnosed was only 2 years old. It is estimated that one in every 100 people over the age of 60 will develop Parkinson’s. There is no known cure.

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