Three years ago, Debbie Flamini, an office secretary at Hartford School, announced she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
What would follow was a show of strength, unity and support from a school community determined to make a difference.
Volley for the Cure was a fundraising event that started in 2012 when Flamini said she was going to participate in the New York City Unity Walk, a fundraiser where the proceeds go to Parkinson’s Disease research. To raise money, the community organized a volleyball game between the school’s fifth-grade and sixth-grade teachers, with all proceeds going toward Flamini’s team.
The 2014 event will be on Thursday, Feb. 13 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Hartford School.
The first event in 2012 was a success, raising almost $4,000. The response was so large, the school continued the event in 2013, raising almost $5,000. This year, Flamini said the goal is to hit the $6,000 mark.
The event goes beyond fundraising and is something the students and staff collaborate on to put together.
“The student council is now involved, so it’s not the staff preparing for it and manning it,” Flamini said. “The students who have graduated are invited back, and last year we had a fair amount of students that moved on to Harrington that came back.”
The event has evolved from a basic volleyball game to include carnival games and t-shirt sales. These have helped open additional ways to raise funds in addition to the $4 ticket charge for the game.
Flamini described the event as successful because of the hard work put in by the school community.
“The first year we did it, everyone thought that it brought everyone closer together,” she said. “Everyone loves doing the event.”
The history of this fundraiser is basic, but has impacted so many people. Flamini came into school trying to raise money for the Unity Walk.
“My friends at work came up with the idea,” she said. “I told them I was doing the walk and I asked them to support me to raise money for the walk.”
Proceeds raised from Volley for the Cure go to Flamini’s walk team, named Debina’s Dream. Flamini came up with the team after connecting online with a woman named Katrina from Texas. Flamini is 57 years old and struggled to find someone her own age who also suffered from the disease.
“When I was first diagnosed, I felt very alone because of being so young with Parkinson’s,” Flamini said.
The pair hit it off and combined their names to form their team name. Each year, they meet in New York City for the walk. The team has combined to raise approximately $30,000 the last two years. Flamini said she has personally raised about $15,500.
Flamini’s efforts have become so successful, the director of the Unity Walk is planning to attend Volley for the Cure this year.
The most important aspect of the event to Flamini remains the sense of community and support she has received from the students and staff at Hartford. It gives her motivation.
“It gives me hope and it makes me want to try harder to stay healthy and optimistic,” she said. “I feel like I’m an inspiration to people who have troubles.
“I feel incredibly lucky that I work at a place like this.”