Highlights from 3rd Annual Facial Paralysis Awareness Walk
It was a lovely afternoon at Shoreline Park in Long Beach, California, on October 16th, 2016, for our 3rd Annual Facial Paralysis Awareness Walk. Over 50 people joined us for a one-mile fun walk, along with entertainment, food, and inspirational speakers!
We were serenaded by the music of Franky Quintanilla and Navid Ardakani while attendees arrived, and we then gathered for a group photo before embarking on a one-mile stroll around lovely Long Beach Marina.
Afterwards, we met back at the park for food and fellowship, and were entertained by professional comedian Brian Apprille. Brian shared his personal journey with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, and inspired us to follow our passions in spite of our physical challenges. He even helped us to laugh in spite of our struggles, and it was wonderful to be in a group where we didn’t feel self-conscious about laughing and enjoying ourselves!
Next, Mary Jo Buttafuoco shared her story of experiencing facial paralysis in the media spotlight, and her journey to healing and new purpose. Mary Jo has been a tireless promoter of facial paralysis awareness, and we appreciate all her efforts to make this year’s walk a success.
Dr. Babak Azizzadeh then shared a bit about the beginnings of our foundation, and discussed the need for more awareness of facial paralysis within the medical community, and in the public at large. Our next speaker was Judy Baer, psychotherapist from Los Angeles, who has been a great resource at many of our group meetings.
We were then introduced to physical therapists Casey Chaney, as well as Joseph Park and Kelli Crouse of Balance Rehabilitation in Garden Grove. We were honored to have the entire staff of Balance Rehabilitation volunteer at our walk – their assistance was greatly appreciated!
Finally, Dr. Faye Wachs discussed her ongoing research project on the social effects of facial paralysis. We are proud to support her research, and look forward to her upcoming publication of her findings.
Lisa McKinley, Executive Director of our foundation, then introduced some of our support group members, who told about how they have been encouraged by meeting others with facial paralysis at our support groups. Thank you to Jane Maetik and Corianne Wechsler for sharing your experiences!
We then announced the winners of our door prizes and silent auction prizes, which were donated by many local sponsors, including The Laugh Factory, Outback Steakhouse, Islands Restaurant, and several others. Special thanks to Corianne Wechsler for her efforts in obtaining our many great prizes this year!
It was wonderful to see so many people come out to promote the cause of facial paralysis awareness, including several babies and a few dogs! Thanks to all who attended, and we look forward to hosting this event again next year!