Sunflower Rev It Up for Parkinson’s is Sept. 12

High school student honors grandfather by helping UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute patients

The late Anthony Salem, MD, dedicated his life to helping his community, friends and family. When he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, his family modeled his behavior by participating in the annual Sunflower Rev It Up for Parkinson’s run, walk, bike event.

“Our team is always ‘Team Doc,’ after his nickname,” says Cackie Schwanekamp, Salem’s granddaughter. “The event is important to my family because it gives us a chance to connect with what my grandfather had to deal with.”

Team Doc will be at this year’s Sept. 12, 2021, Sunflower Rev It Up for Parkinson’s event at Sawyer Point in downtown Cincinnati raising funds to support research and educational efforts at the University of Cincinnati Gardner Neuroscience Institute’s James J. and Joan A. Gardner Family Center for Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders. The event includes a 1K and 5K walk/run, and a 45K bike ride through downtown Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

Group of people on a sunny day at fundraising walk. Wearing green shirts. The group includes children and adults of all ages.

Team Doc at a past Sunflower Rev It Up for Parkinson's event. Salem is on the far right.

Sadly, Salem passed away in April 2020. Cackie says Sunflower Rev It Up for Parkinson’s is a way to honor him.

“My grandfather was one of my biggest role models, and I still strive to be like him daily,” she says. “We frequently hear stories from people all over town who knew him and how he made a difference in his community.”

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Salem could no longer see his physical therapist in person. Cackie took note of the items that kept him physically and mentally active — stress balls, crossword puzzles, therapy pens, hand weights.  

Cackie was inspired to create “Tony’s Tote’s,” named for her grandfather and to date has given 75 bags of donated items to UC patients.

Though she will miss her grandfather cheering her family from the finish line at future Sunflower events, Cackie knows Salem would be proud of her.  

“I feel very close to my grandfather while supporting this cause,” she says.

Learn more, donate or register for Sunflower Rev It Up for Parkinson’s at sunflowerrev.org

Featured image at top: Cackie Schwanekamp and her mom, Michelle Schwanekamp, at University of Cincinnati Gardner Neuroscience Institute. Photo/provided.