Ten years ago, local artist Ron Czerniec was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. In the intervening years, he has parlayed his diagnosis into becoming one of Parkinson’s strongest advocates.
“Don’t call me a victim,” Czerniec says. “I am actually a very lucky man.”
Despite intense medical treatments and symptoms that affect him on a daily basis, Czerniec is on a mission to raise $250,000 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s during the month of April, which is designated as Parkinson’s Awareness Month. Collaborating with marketing expert Karen Fleming and award-winning artist Dayna Elefant and a team of volunteers, Czerniec’s goal is to “Paint the Towns with Tulips,” the symbol of Parkinson’s disease.
“Every nine minutes, someone is diagnosed with Parkinson’s,” says Czerniec. “My goal is to help raise funds for gene therapy and a new drug that may prevent the disease.”
Each vinyl indoor/outdoor banner, created by Elefant, features either a single tulip or a field of tulips with the slogan “I’m Helping to WHIP Parkinson’s Now.” The banners are two feet by four feet and cost $250. All proceeds, less fourteen percent for printing costs, will be donated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which has recognized Czerniec’s group, Team Fox.
“We just received our tax ID number from the Foundation and have started selling the banners in St. Petersburg and in Gulfport. Doe Doe’s Diner in St. Pete was the first to purchase a banner,” says Czerniec. “I have a feeling this thing is going to roll out and go large.”
In typical Gulfport fashion, businesses have been quick to help support a good cause, and guests can see the banners hanging in windows and on walls throughout Gulfport at Boca Bay Grille, Bo-Tiki, Domain Home Accessories & Gallery, O’Maddy’s, Spinnakers and The Peninsula Inn.
Czerniec, who has worked tirelessly since March to get the campaign off the ground, will have a booth set up in front of Domain Home Accessories & Gallery on Saturday, April 16, during Gulfport’s Third Saturday Art Walk, selling banners to individuals and businesses as well as providing information about Parkinson’s disease.
“I have to connect my motto ‘Hope and Dreams’ with action,” says Czerniec. “That time is now.”
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or search for Paint the Towns with Tulips on Facebook.