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It is a tremor that will send shockwaves through nearly 60,000 families in the U.S. this year. However, it will not be registering on the Richter scale; the shift in their world will be caused by the diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. They will join the estimated 1.5 million afflicted Americans, along with their loved ones, who feel the reverberations of a disorder that leaves physical destruction, emotional devastation and financial ruin in its wake. Out of this rubble, a resolve emerges to research and fund a cure amongst the chaos.

For many, the first rumblings of Parkinson’s Disease are noticed in slurred speech, muscle stiffness, a shuffling gait; for actress Holly Robinson-Peete, it was noticing her dad walking with a limp while dropping her off at college in 1982. Upon returning home for Christmas of that year, Holly was told of his Bell’s Palsy, a condition that causes the facial muscles to weaken or become paralyzed. At the age of 46, this was the onset of his diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease.

His name may not sound familiar, however many know Matt Robinson as the man who swept our cares away. His role playing the original Gordon on Sesame Street endeared us to this gentleman who would go on to write and produce for some of televisions best-loved comedies, including Sanford & Son, Eight is Enough, and The Cosby Show.

“When my father got sick, our whole world fell apart,” expressed Holly in a 2002 interview.

Even though Matthew had a successful career in the entertainment business, there was a substantial financial strain created by the medical needs of the disease. Fortunately Holly and her husband, former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete and the rest of Matthew’s supportive family alleviated that stress. Moved by so many patients they encountered who did go without the physical, emotional and financial support, the Beverly Hills humanitarian husband and wife team were determined to create an organization that dealt straight-on with these issues. The HollyRod Foundation for Help and Hope was founded in 1997 in honor of Matthew T. Robinson, Sr.

The HollyRod Foundation joined forces in 2002 with the Center for Parkinson’s Research and Movement Disorders at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, in establishing The HollyRod Compassionate Care Program. This partnership enables HollyRod to provide individual patients with financial and medical assistance, along with other services and care as needed.

HollyRod is a lightning rod for charitable celebrities. The foundation presents two annual phenomenal fundraisers to raise money and awareness throughout the year. The star-studded DesignCure and Gridiron Glamour Celebrity Fashion Show & Brunch feature haute ensembles and cool entertainment!

Decked out in dynamic fashion designs from ESCADA, models took to the catwalk, delighting DesignCure 2006 invited guests such as Chris Rock, Star Jones Reynolds, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Angie Harmon and Samuel L. Jackson. The auction this year included a set of three guitars autographed by members of U2, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin! Boxing legend and three-time host of DesignCure Sugar Ray Leonard had the distinction of joining former honoree, famed fighter Muhammad Ali,
when he was presented with the HollyRod Foundation Humanitarian Award for his knockout charitable efforts. The summer evening ended on a high-note with a musical performance by Grammy winner Jill Scott. In its eight years of existence, DesignCure has raised over one million dollars.

The Gridiron Glamour fundraiser fuses fashion & football together in an event held during Super Bowl week. In the past, the event has showcased the top fashion designs from Saks Fifth Avenue couture collection. The hottest trends & threads were worn by a team that included supermodel and hostess Niki Taylor, singing sensations Patti LaBelle, Kelly Rowland and Marc Anthony, sport stars Rick Fox, Serena Williams and Jason Sehorn and Hollywood personalities Daisy Fuentes, Nancy O'Dell & Carmen Electra!

The 2007 Gridiron Glamour Celebrity Fashion Show & Brunch will be held in Miami, Florida on February 3rd. In addition to money raised for the HollyRod Foundation, the fundraiser bestows a non-profit organization in each Super Bowl city to serve as local beneficiary of the event. The 2007 recipient is The Honey Shine Foundation, a non-profit mentoring program providing positive experiences that nurture the mind, body and soul of girls 6 to 18 years old in at-risk situations.

Mr. Robinson passed away from Parkinson’s Disease in August 2002, twenty years after being diagnosed. His spirit lives on in HollyRod’s ever-strengthening commitment to fostering help & hope to Parkinson’s patients, and their families and caregivers.

That’s one wave of compassion we can all roll with.

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