APDA’s ‘Look Closer’ Campaign Captures Full Lives of Parkinson’s Patients

Ana de Barros, PhD avatar

by Ana de Barros, PhD |

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awareness campaign, live your best

The American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) launched a series of public service announcements via television stations and social media channels to promote a richer understanding of Parkinson’s disease and how it affects and inspires those touched by it.

Look Closer, the centerpiece the group’s monthlong campaign that coincides with Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month, specifically encourages viewers to look beyond the disease and become aware of the “full lives” both patients and caregivers enjoy. TV announcements appear in both English and Spanish.

The announcement, filmed in New York City, touches on the life stories of eight people and was directed by the documentary filmmaker Matthew Makar, the founder of Elementary Films. Background music was composed by Nami Melumad, who donated the work.

“Most people take PD at face value, APDA writes in a press release, “associating it only with the more commonly-known physical symptoms such as tremors and slow movements. But there is more than meets the eye … invisible symptoms including sleeplessness, loss of smell, depression and more. … APDA is urging people to look closer to see the people behind the disease, to see the unshakeable spirit and determination that it takes to live life to the fullest with PD.

Patients profiled include Allison Toepperwein, a single mother from Texas who was diagnosed at age 37 and went on  to be a contestant on the TV show “American Ninja Warrior.”

Announcements running nationwide since April 1 include 60-, 30- and 20-second TV spots, and can be viewed on social channels like YouTube. All spots are also  on the APDA’s website, and people are encouraged to view and share them to learn more about the disease and show  support for the organization and its work.

“The eight people featured in the PSA are just a small sampling of the amazing people we meet every day who are tackling their PD journey with optimism and resolve,” Leslie A. Chambers, APDA’s president and chief executive officer, said in the release. “From extreme athletes diagnosed in their 30’s, to a bridge-playing senior who’s been living with PD for seven years, to a rodeo champion diagnosed just over a year ago, we feel that it’s so important to show the public that people with PD are living full and fruitful lives.”

The campaign also features a video library showcasing the people featured in the spots, and inspirational “real life” stories submitted by the public. The videos will be available throughout the year.

“Our efforts are two-fold,” Chambers said. “In addition to educating people about the disease and offering hope and inspiration via the people profiled in the PSA [public service announcement] and online, it’s incredibly important that people understand that APDA is here to help every step of the way. We provide the support, education, programs, and services people need to live their best lives.”

Founded in 1961, APDA is one of the largest grassroots networks dedicated to fighting Parkinson’s disease. To date, APDA has raised and invested more than $170 million in patient services and educational programs, elevating public awareness and supporting research into Parkinson’s disease and its potential treatments.