Augusta University pops up at the POP Walk

(Photo: Kait Fruechting)
(Photo: Kait Fruechting)

By Kait Fruechting | Contributor

About 50 members of the Augusta University community helped make up the estimated 400 walkers that answered the call for movement by participating in the CSRA Parkinson’s Support Group’s 17th Annual People of Parkinson’s Walk Saturday at First Baptist Church of Augusta on October 1, 2016

The university entered four teams. The teams included physical therapy students, faculty from the Department of Physical Therapy, and staff from the Movements Disorders Clinic. 

“In our training, we learn the importance of movement especially for Parkinson’s patients,” explained Katie Magoni, a second-year student of physical therapy. “We all wanted to show our support!”

The walkers included family members, friends, healthcare providers, and Parkinson’s patients. While the course was two miles, the ultimate goal was to help every Parkinson’s patient complete at least one lap equaling quarter mile.

The donations pledged and collected at the event brought in nearly $39,000.

“The purpose of the walk was to provide grant money for ongoing research, to provide literature, resources and support to the public, and to establish new exercise programs suitable for Parkinson’s patients,” said Mary Ann Navarro, board member of the CSRA Parkinson’s Support Group.

The local support group recognized Drs. Mohan Wakade, Raymond Chong, and John Morgan before the walk. Chong and Wakade are professors and researchers within the department of Physical Therapy. Morgan treats patients alongside a team of physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech pathologists the Movement Disorders clinic.

Joe Kelley, the vice president of the Parkinson’s Support Group, awarded the three doctors a grant with a total of $13,000 to continue their Parkinson’s research. The grant money was raised by the local support group.

To help promote the importance of movement among people living with Parkinson’s, demonstrations in various low impact activities were held before the walk. Rick Pukis, instructor of tai chi and assistant professor of communications at Augusta University, lead a demonstration in tai chi.

“Tai chi is an excellent, low impact exercise for individuals who have Parkinson’s and other movement disorders,” said Pukis. “Tai Chi keeps the energy flowing.”

Some walkers participated in the exercises, but others took advantage of the available information provided by Augusta University Movement Disorders Clinic. Literature on the disorder, an explanation of the current treatment and ongoing research at Augusta University, and the available support programs were provided to the public by Augusta University’s information booth. Dr. John Morgan, a neurologist and member of Augusta University’s Movement Disorders clinic, spoke with participants and welcomed questions and concerns.

“Events such as this unite us all,” Morgan said. “It is a day of positivity as everyone can feel the support of family, friends, doctors, and researchers.”

Contact Kait Fruechting at


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