Shuck Parkinson's

How A Dozen Oysters Can Help a Million People

By Erica Corsano

Photo courtesy of Shuck Parkinson's

Photo courtesy of Shuck Parkinson's

Michael J. Fox (AKA Alex P. Keaton and Marty McFly) shocked the world in 1998 when he revealed he had Parkinson’s disease.  The movement disorder which is often considered an “old man illness” can affect those younger than 40.  In fact, an estimated one million Americans are living with Parkinson’s disease. 

Shuck Parkinson’s, a grassroots community fundraising event based out of Boston, is part of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF)— a foundation which the New York Times penned "the most credible voice on Parkinson's research in the world.”

We caught up with Alexandra Cherubini who started Shuck Parkinson’s to learn more.

Photo courtesy of Alexandra Cherubini 

Photo courtesy of Alexandra Cherubini 

How did you get involved with this organization?

My mom has been battling Parkinson’s for twenty plus years, and about 15 or so years ago, my family became involved with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

For years, I have been wanting to hold a Team Fox event (100 percent of the money raised at Team Fox events goes directly to finding a cure and funding Parkinson’s research), and finally, in the beginning of September, we decided to make it happen!

Why did you feel Boston needed an event to raise more awareness for this cause/disease?

Parkinson’s is the second most common brain disease, and we need to find a cure!  I also find that a lot of people have someone in their lives with Parkinson’s but really do not know what it is, or how the disease can manifest itself from person to person.

What are some shocking and interesting things you have learned about Parkinson’s?

So MUCH!  One fact that I find shocking is that the most commonly used medication for Parkinson’s was developed in 1967, that is two years before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon!

The other shocking/interesting fact about Parkinson’s is that a blood test and/or a biomarker does not yet exist to diagnose the disease, so diagnosis is based on clinical signs, and whether or not a person responds to Parkinson’s medications.  So for my mom, she was ‘diagnosed’ in January of 1998, but looking back on it, had been showing signs years prior to the diagnosis. 

How did you come up with the cheeky event name? 

I wish I could remember it all in greater detail, but the one thing I do remember is that was about four years ago, and my husband, Camilo and I were eating Island Creek Oysters talking about how we needed to plan a fundraiser for the Fox Foundation.

What do you hope people will take away from your raising awareness?

Teamwork does make the dream work, and the more we can work together to raise awareness and fundraise, the quicker we will find a cure.

It was truly amazing to see how many people jumped in to help out with the event.  From the local companies that got involved (Island Creek Oyster, South End Formaggio, Wicked Good Cookies, Bruins Foundation, etc.) from those who donated to the event, those who attended, and from those who donated the amazing silent auction items.  It was truly incredible. 

How can people get involved and give back?

We started out with a 10k goal for the evening, and a few weeks before, we increased it to a stretch goal of 50K, we are currently now hovering around 70K and are hoping to hit 75k!

If anyone would like to help us reach that goal, we would be so appreciative!!!  There are also several Team Fox events around Boston (and other cities) that can be found on the Michael J. Fox Foundation website.

Again, 100 percent of all the money raised during this event goes directly to finding a cure for Parkinson’s.

To learn more or give back head to

Giving Tuesday

By Kenlyn Jones

With major shopping holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s easy to get lost in consumerism and forget the true meaning of Thanksgiving. This season, focus on giving back—Giving Tuesday is the perfect time to practice goodwill and support organizations making positive change.

Need some help deciding how to give? From educational initiatives to hunger relief, we created a list of remarkable organizations to consider.  Happy giving! 

Interested in helping schools in your area?  Try

Support a classroom. Build a future.

Teachers all over the U.S. need your help to bring their classroom dreams to life. Choose a project that inspires you and give any amount.

Are the arts more your thing? Try supporting music programs like Music for Relief.


In honor of #GivingTuesday, please support Music for Relief and our Typhoon Haiyan Relief effort. Donate here, and Steve Aoki will match it dollar for dollar.

What about food? Want to help people get nutritious and delicious meals? Then Lovin’ Spoonfuls is for you.


Lovin’ Spoonfuls is dedicated to facilitating the rescue and distribution of healthy, fresh food that would otherwise be discarded. They work efficiently to deliver this food directly to the community organizations and nonprofits that feed Greater Boston's hungry.

Give to the Cleo Institute if you want to celebrate your inner environmentalist.


The CLEO Institute is the only non-profit organization in Miami, FL solely dedicated to climate change education, engagement, and advocacy.

Help provide clean water to people across the globe by donating to  charity: water.

Clean water changes everything.

charity: water brings clean and safe drinking water to people in need around the world, improving health, education, and opportunity - especially for women and children.

Animal lovers everywhere can support our furry friends at MSPCA.

The mission of the MSPCA-Angell is to protect animals, relieve their suffering, advance their health and welfare, prevent cruelty, and work for a just and compassionate society.

Whether it’s a local cause or an international initiative, there are plenty of places you can support during the holidays.  We hope you’ll join us, give back and spread the word on #GivingTuesday. 

A week of wows: helping kids in need at two stylish soirées

By Erica Corsano

Gala season is in full-swing in the Northeast which means bubbles, bidding, and black-tie getups. Amazing style-spying and dizzying dance floor action aside, at the heart of this very important season, are causes that are changing lives across the globe.

Education org Flying Kites celebrated 10 years of providing schooling, clothing, nutritious food and more to vulnerable children in Kenya, raising a whopping 1.2 million dollars at their anniversary gala on Thursday evening. All proceeds will go towards the expansion of their Leadership Academy and Teacher Training Center.

Co-founder and executive director, Leila de Bruyne gave a heartwarming and humbling speech with a special shout-out to Alex + Ani founder Carolyn Rafaelian, who attended the event with other A+A staffers. The brand is responsible for funding the building of Flying Kites’ new school and training center.

The self-made female billionaire (and recent Forbes Magazine cover subject) commemorated the anniversary party by announcing a matching gift challenge; pledging to match all donations made on the night (up to 250,000 USD).

Melissa Steffy, Erica Corsano, Kennedy Elsey, and Jeff Brandli at Flying Kites. 

Melissa Steffy, Erica Corsano, Kennedy Elsey, and Jeff Brandli at Flying Kites. 

Since 2007, Flying Kites has been serving some of the most vulnerable children in East Africa through the Flying Kites Leadership Academy. In January 2018, the organization’s model school will be partnering with the district's most impoverished primary schools to help address barriers to learning and provide training and ongoing coaching to teachers in neighboring schools and communities.


Learn more at

On Saturday evening, another Boston-based organization for kiddos also celebrated providing access to educational programs at the Boston Children’s Museum Wonderball, held at the museum.

Since 1913, over 25 million children (and their families) have been welcomed to play and learn via Boston Children’s Museum various exhibits and programs.

Over 420 gala-goers celebrated the institution’s remarkable work raising over $600,000 in support.

Wonderball co-chairs – Philip Gordon, Julie Gordon, Aisha Al Riyam, Al Wadhah Al Wadawi, Janna O’Neill, Sean O’Neill   Photo credit: Matt Teuten

Wonderball co-chairs – Philip Gordon, Julie Gordon, Aisha Al Riyam, Al Wadhah Al Wadawi, Janna O’Neill, Sean O’Neill

Photo credit: Matt Teuten

Each year, close to 600,000 visitors experience the wonders of this incredible community resource, and nearly half of those visitors rely on generously discounted or free admission.

Proceeds from the event will support the very programs that provide access to the Museum, regardless of economic, physical or developmental challenges.

Learn more at

Event Recap: Silent Spring’s 2017 Gala on Breast Cancer Prevention

Erica Corsano

Keynote speaker Gina McCarthy and Silent Spring Institute, executive director, Julia Brody.

Keynote speaker Gina McCarthy and Silent Spring Institute, executive director, Julia Brody.

Former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy delivered an impassioned speech at Silent Spring’s annual breast cancer prevention gala last Thursday, talking about current threats to public health, namely the threat of unregulated and dangerous chemicals in everyday products and in our environment, and the challenges in dealing with these “invisible” threats that contribute to breast cancer and other diseases.

“You can’t smell the stuff that kills us now. You can’t see it, you can’t taste it. It’s in the products that are in our houses…” said McCarthy.

McCarthy emphasized the critical and urgent need to support science at a time when science at the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies is coming under attack.

“It is time for us to speak our minds,” she said. “If you think you can take away credible science and still protect the people in this country, you are wrong because science isn’t about gut instinct, it’s about facts.”

Silent Spring’s executive director and senior scientist Dr. Julia Brody highlighted the institute’s work including an innovative research program for rapidly identifying chemicals that contribute to breast cancer, a new study  on how exposure during adolescence to hazardous chemicals might increase breast cancer risk later in life, and a crowdsourced study for tracking the public’s exposure to 14 common toxics.

“Tonight, you have the opportunity to generate the science we need to stop making the same mistakes over again by putting untested chemicals in our environment and in our bodies,” said Brody. 

Norman Posner and host Kelley Tuthill, former anchor at WCVB-TV in Boston, led a paddle auction to raise funds to support the Institute’s work.

The evening ended with the awarding of the 2017 Rachel Carson Advocacy Award to Nancy Drourr, a long-time supporter and breast cancer survivor, for her advocacy work and commitment to prevention research.

The annual gala dinner was held at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge. More than 250 guests were in attendance.

To make a donation to the Silent Spring Institute, please visit