Sunday, March 18, 2012

Petey Appears in Israel

Israel was a strange place to make his debut. Raccoons do not frequent this part of the world. And yet, circumstances dictated that as my traveling mascot, Petey the Raccoon, was brought along. Having been "born" from a sketch from well-known PD cartoonist, Peter Dunlap-Shohl from Alaska,, and refined by a new friend, Laura Vanderwel, it seemed an opportune time to get off the drawing board and into my suitcase. 
Petey will be traveling with me on my upcoming trip around the world. Now lest you think that he is simply a prop, a self-aggrandizing photo opportunist, or purely a promotional gimmick, I want to assure you that you're right. Petey’s purpose in life is to promote World Parkinson Congress 2013 (WPC 2013), happening 18 months from now in MontrĂ©al. He will be caught in photographs, in" Flat Stanley" style, in world locations that may look familiar or entirely unusual, depending on the circumstances.

Now, why a raccoon, you ask? This pudgy-looking masked bandit is intelligent, resourceful, nocturnal, adaptable to both city and country life, and found in great numbers in Canada. It seems to me that, besides the fact that I was nicknamed derivatives of raccoon (like "coon" or "coonskin") throughout my childhood, it is a fitting animal to stimulate global awareness of Parkinson's disease and promote the WPC 2013. 

First stop, the Dan Panorama Hotel, Tel Aviv. There I was privileged to meet with three men involved in the leadership of the Parkinson's community in Israel. After a short introduction to Petey, who seemed to represent neither a threat to national security nor an excessive embarrassment to their offices held by these men, they agreed to welcome him, as they did me.

Let me introduce you to three fine gentlemen who apparently share my love of alliteration (at least in terms of their first names).

Amir Karmin  - President, Israel Parkinson Association
Alex Moisescu – CEO of Israel Parkinson Association
Amichai Arielli -European Parkinson's Disease Association representative
Although somewhat unfamiliar with the World Parkinson Congress, they readily engaged in dialogue, asking plenty of probative questions that proved to identify the importance of this global meeting. Of particular interest was the 2010 genetic studies relating to Ashkenazi Jews and the significant increase of Parkinson's disease generally. While a relatively small organization, the Israel Parkinson Association ( believes there are over 20,000 people with the disease in Israel (a population of approximately 8 million people). Clearly, the need for a more coordinated awareness development plan is in the forefront of the thinking of the stream and, as they reach out to support a population that is often distracted by other critical areas of concern.


  1. So he gets labelled with my least favorite nickname " Petey".

  2. HI Bob - when will you becoming to South Africa? I was diagnosed with early onset parkinson's when I was in my late twenties (I am 43 now) and would love to meet with you to see what kind of awareness and educational programs you have has, as I am planning to start a support group to assist early onset patients in Johannesburg. Looking forward to hearing from you!