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A hockey player’s off-the-field battle against Parkinson’s disease

Kelsey Zeswitz '13, a global studies major and member of the field hockey team, has organized the first Lehigh Valley Fox Trot 5K, scheduled for Oct. 28.

For the past four years, Kelsey Zeswitz ’13 and her field hockey teammates have relied on each other to face challenging opponents.

Recently, the team has come together to support her in a battle off the field.

With the backing of the field hockey team and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Zeswitz has organized the first Lehigh Valley Fox Trot 5K, to be held at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 28 on the Goodman Campus.

For Zeswitz, the cause is personal. In the summer of 2010, her mother, Chrissie, was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease. The revelation shocked the senior’s family and friends, but Zeswitz is working to make a difference for people with Parkinson’s. 

“It was hard for me to handle, seeing the woman I’ve always looked up to deal with this,” said Zeswitz, who majors in global studies.

“My mom gave me my love for sports and my love for being active. I just really wanted to do something to encourage her and support her while I have access to the resources I have here at Lehigh and in the community that I have as a student-athlete.”

A fundraising goal of $2,500 has been set for the 5K, and as of October 10, Zeswitz was just $650 short of her target.

Help from a supportive community

In the early stages of planning the event, Zeswitz reached out to her coaches and other leaders in the department of athletics for their advice and support. Her teammates have helped spread the word about the fundraiser – hanging fliers, making announcements in their classes, and telling their friends. 

“I have a whole community of student athletes who I’ve grown with through these four years,” said Zeswitz, who is a Student-Athlete Mentor (SAM.) “They’re all telling their teams about it and getting their teammates to sign up, so it’s been really cool to see the response from the Lehigh community, especially in athletics.”

“Kelsey’s initiative in organizing such a meaningful event speaks volumes to the kind of person and leader she is,” said Julie Sterrett ‘07, assistant director of the John A. Cable Center for Athletics Leadership. 

“Because she cares so much and values each opportunity she is provided, Kelsey consistently works hard and has emerged as a dependable and well-respected leader and teammate in the athletics community.”

Zeswitz estimates that at least 50 people have already registered to participate in the inaugural 5K, including several friends and family members planning to make the trip to Lehigh. 

“It’ll be really fun to be able to walk with my mom,” said Zeswitz. “There’s been a really huge group of people willing to help because they know my mom and are proud of her and want to support her.”
 
Editor’s note: Information from the Lehigh Athletics Web Story “Making A Difference for Mom” by Justin Lafleur, assistant director of Lehigh Sports Media Relations, was used in this article.

To donate to the first Lehigh Valley Fox Trot 5K, visit the Michael J. Fox foundation website

Service Electric 2 Sports Story on Lehigh Field Hockey Fox Trot 5K (VIDEO)

Story by Karl Brisseaux

Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2012

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