University launches Big 30 fundraising challenge to support Parkinson’s research

5th June 2020

The University of Sheffield is inviting staff, students and members of the public to get involved in a Big 30 challenge to support research into Parkinson’s disease.

  • University of Sheffield invites community to do 30 “things” throughout June
  • Over £5,000 already raised in support of groundbreaking research into treatments for Parkinson’s disease
  • Participants encouraged to get creative to support the campaign as physical distancing measures continue
The University of Sheffield is inviting staff, students and members of the public to get involved in a Big 30 challenge to support research into Parkinson’s disease.

Over the 30 days in June, participants are doing 30 “things”, either every day or over the course of the month. From 30 sit-ups, to running a total of 30 miles or growing 30 plants over the course of the month, fundraisers are encouraged to be as creative as possible. The initiative is designed to replace this year's Big Walk fundraiser, which would have seen participants sponsored to walk up to 36 miles in aid of Parkinson's research. The Big 30 has already raised over £5,000.

As well as bringing people together as physical distancing measures continue, the campaign will raise money for the University’s groundbreaking and essential research to help the 145,000 people in the UK who are living with Parkinson’s.

Those who sign up for the Big 30 challenge are encouraged to share photos and videos of their progress on social media using #Big30Shef and collect donations via the JustGiving campaign.

Parkinson’s causes the death of nerve cells in the brain and gets progressively worse over time, with typical symptoms including difficulty moving or a tremor. Existing treatments only mask these symptoms, while the underlying death of the cells in the brain is still ongoing – meaning symptoms progressively worsen and the masking treatments become less effective.

At the University of Sheffield, scientists are growing skin cells from Parkinson’s patients and turning them into brain cells in the laboratory to help understand why people develop the disease. They are also pioneering novel ways of imaging the brains of people with Parkinson’s. Both aspects of research combined will enable the researchers to develop drugs which can target the right cellular pathways.

The researchers are hoping to use the money raised from the Big 30 challenge to fund clinical trials, vital equipment and chemicals, and biopsies and assessments of the effect of drug treatments for individual patients.

Dr Heather Mortiboys, Senior Lecturer in Translational Neuroscience at the University of Sheffield, said: “I am challenging myself to walk at least three miles every day in June (that's 100 miles throughout June) and bake a cake every day in June too. I will post pictures and recipes of the cakes and some of the walks on social media too. I will try to get my kids involved – at least they will be happy about the eating of the cake!

“I am doing this to raise funds and awareness for Parkinson's research at Sheffield. This is something very close to my heart, and I have dedicated the last 20 years of my working life to understanding Parkinson's and trying to help patients. Any donation will help accelerate Parkinson's research and enable real benefits to reach people with Parkinson's sooner.
“Two more people are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease every hour – that's 18,000 people every year. Causing a loss of physical movement and uncontrollable tremors, the disease will affect 145,000 people in the UK alone in 2020. New treatments are needed to stop Parkinson's in its tracks. Everyone who gets involved in the Big30 challenge will be supporting this important work, helping our researchers to lead the way in developing new treatments for Parkinson's Disease.”

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