Best Friend's Seek Cure for Parkinson's


Barb Stonecipher (left) with Jodi Mara

They met more than a decade ago, when their daughters were in a theater program together, and quickly became close friends. When Jodi Mara, 57, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2006, Barb Stonecipher, 55, was there for her, supplying plenty of emotional support.

A few years after her diagnosis, Mara decided she wanted to raise funds to support research into promoting awareness and finding a cure. The first year, “Stepping Out for Parkinson’s” was mostly attended by her family and friends. The second year, she called on best friend Stonecipher to help her. The two have been working hand in hand ever since, raising thousands of dollars for Parkinson’s disease research over the last four years. Their passion is a driving force with one goal, which is to do their part in finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease.

Now, the best friends ‒ Mara, the “reserved, quiet one,” and Stonecipher, the “outgoing extrovert”‒ are gearing up for their fifth walk and run event that will benefit the research of physicians and scientists at NorthShore Neurological Institute (NNI).

The friends are hoping to raise $16,000 from entry fees, silent auction, raffle tickets and donations. “We’re hoping to have an attendance of around 300 people,” said Mara, who counts herself among the fortunate with the disease. “After many adjustments, I now have the right combination of medications and I’m in a stable place right now.  I can exercise by walking and riding my bike with little difficulty,” she said. “One day we hope to walk in celebration of finding a cure. That’s my goal for the future.”

Stonecipher has high praise for her friend. “She has taught me patience. Jodi is always upbeat and active. At one time, she had a landscaping design business but had to give it up as it became more difficult to handle the physical work because of her condition. She’s just an amazing person.”

“Jodi found her voice with this walk, and she’s bringing me along for the ride,” said Stonecipher. “I’m grateful.”

Mara’s physician, Demetrius M. Maraganore, MD, the Ruth Cain Ruggles Chair of Neurology and NNI Medical Director, said NorthShore’s far-reaching research “definitely benefits from support.”

“Our vision is to develop methods to predict, prevent and halt the progression of common neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease.  This is the aim of the DodoNA Project (DNA Prediction to Improve Neurological Health) that I lead at NorthShore. At least 1,000 Parkinson’s patients will participate, including Jodi Mara, and we are half way there. Funding support will accelerate the pace of enrollment and discovery.”

“Stepping Out for Parkinson’s,” a 5k Fun Run .5/1.5 mile Fun Walk will be held Sunday, June 14 at 11 a.m. in Vernon Hills. Special guests include Anna and Elsa from Disney’s Frozen, along with other princess's from the Princess Cabaret out of Round Lake Park District. To register or for donation information, please visit

If you would like to learn more about DodoNA, NorthShore Neurological Institute or “Stepping Out for Parkinson’s” please call 224.364.7200 or email



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