4th Annual Virtual Dog Walk Raises Money for Dystonia Research
09/05/2013

– For the fourth year running, the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) is collaborating with dog owners and their canines across the country to raise funds for dystonia research throughout the month of September.

Online PR News – 05-September-2013 – Chicago, IL – For the fourth year running, the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) is collaborating with dog owners and their canines across the country to raise funds for dystonia research throughout the month of September. Dystonia is a disabling neurological disorder that can interfere with everyday activities such as walking, speaking, writing, or vision. In an effort to reach DMRF supporters nationwide, the Dogs4Dystonia Virtual Walk allows dog lovers across the country to unite in a month-long fundraiser for a common cause. Supporters can register their own four-legged friend or support a participating dog, all through the DMRF’s website.

For one month, registered canines raise money and awareness in their respective neighborhoods. For Treacy Henry, a top fundraising participant in 2012, the Virtual Walk is a way to allow anyone – especially those with mobility issues due to dystonia – to participate. Henry was diagnosed with dystonia in 2010. Through the internet, she got put in touch with a support group in Rhode Island and was introduced to the DMRF.

After she saw a post about the Virtual Walk on Facebook, Henry got to thinking. “I thought about my Aunt Carol McGrath and her dog Nico,” she says. “Carol has always been very supportive of me and I thought this was the type of event she could really get into. I asked her [to participate] and she immediately said yes.”

Dystonia has prevented Henry from maintaining employment, changing her life in a very big way. “In addition to the lack of a salary, I really miss interacting with people, and feeling productive,” she said.

The DMRF launched the nationwide Dogs4Dystonia Virtual Walk in 2010 as an educational fundraising program, hoping to inform the general population about the difficulties faced by those with dystonia and the role dogs play in many of their lives as companions and sometimes assistance dogs. Since then, dog walks have taken place in communities across the country and provided a way to bring together dog lovers to learn about dystonia. In order to share this experience with the DMRF’s membership of more than 45,000 people, as well as the 300,000-plus web visitors, the DMRF began the online dog walk.

Dystonia is a movement disorder which causes involuntary contractions of muscles. These spasms and contractions twist the body, causing varying degrees of pain. It is the third most common movement disorder after essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease. For individuals with dystonia, dogs act as emotional and physical supports for their owners.

To view the dogs participating in this year’s Virtual Dog Walk, visit dystonia-foundation.org/dogs.

The Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) is dedicated to advancing research for improved dystonia treatments and ultimately a cure, promoting awareness, and supporting the well-being of affected individuals and families. The DMRF can be reached at 800-377-3978 or www.dystonia-foundation.org.