Pinky's Passion For A Parkinson's Cure

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

By Diane Hettrick 
Pat Erickson, also known as "Pinky" for her love of the color pink, was dancing the Funky Chicken with her son at the Meridian Park school dance in 2001. Being in the middle of school events was not unusual for Pat, a mother of three, an active PTA and school volunteer. What was unusual was that her arm was numb and the numbness didn't go away. 
Photo: Pat "Pinky" Erickson.

Many doctor visits and many tests later, she found out why. She had Parkinson's Disease, an incurable, progressive disease which wastes the nervous system so that the person gradually loses control over their movements. Symptoms include a combination of involuntary movements and muscle rigidity.

Pat, who had been deeply involved at Meridian Park Elementary, scaled back her volunteer work while she and her family learned how to live with this major change. For an entire year, Pat didn't tell anyone about her medical issues. Then her husband Steve said to her, "if any good is ever to come of this, you need to tell people." Her closest friend said she would help. Pat went public.
Photo: Pat and Steve Erickson 

The response from friends, school and PTA volunteers, and kids, was positive and supportive. People said "How can we help?" Pat started thinking about what she could do that would make the most difference. The answer was clear: find a cure for Parkinson's by helping to fund the scientific research.

Pinky's Passion for a Parkinson's Cure was born. With the help of her good friend Marla Schriefer, the first event was held.

Pat, a slender, elegant woman, has a love for vintage clothing and had been collecting vintage outfits and accessories. 

In April of 2007, Pat and Marla staged Pinky's Passion for Fashion, a vintage fashion show. The show raised $12,000 which Pat gave to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
Photo, left: Pat in her favorite hat

Photo, right: Sue Brown and Debi Ehrlichman model vintage clothing

Michael J. Fox is the television and movie star (Back to the Future series) whose career was sidelined by Parkinson's. His foundation has funded almost $179 million in research and is ranked as one of the most fiscally responsible charities in the US.

Photo, left: Pat and Michael J. Fox in New York
Based on that donation, Pat and her husband Steve were invited to the Fox Foundation's Most Valuable People dinner in April 2008. Pat says, "It was there I met Michael J. Fox. He was everything you would hope he would be - warm, friendly and very funny."


Pat Erickson May 25, 2010 at 1:32 PM  

I do want to acknowledge Lise Husted and the instrumental part she played in establishing Pinky's Passion for a Parkinson's Cure. Without her help, Pinky's Passion would not be where we are today.

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