Home | Directions | Find a Job | News | Lifeline | Video | Choose a Department

Albany Medical Center Foundation

Our Stories


Helping to Fight Parkinson’s Disease

Footprints in the newly fallen snow signaled to Mark Burek that something was amiss – something that led to helping others.

“My right foot print was a long skid mark, much different from my left print,” recalled Mr. Burek of Castleton, a postal carrier and retired Navy senior chief petty officer.

Mark Burek runs as a way to help manage his Parkinson's, and also to help raise awareness and funds for Parkinson's research.
Mark Burek runs as a way to help manage his Parkinson's, and to help raise awareness and funds for Parkinson's research.
He ignored it for a few weeks, until his wife Ann noticed something else: “She said when I was eating, I was slow getting food to my mouth, as if I were afraid I were going to drop something.”

He knew it was time to see an expert. Mr. Burek was referred to Eric Molho, M.D., director of the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorder Center at Albany Med, the only center of its kind in the region. 

“I love that man with all my heart. He’s seen me through some difficult times,” his grateful patient noted, explaining that Dr. Molho diagnosed him with early Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement.

“I wasn't sure how it would affect my life and my family,” Mr. Burek said. “However, I quickly learned that a positive attitude is a must.”

From that day in 2007, the patient’s focus has been on living his life and helping others live theirs. He launched “Parkinson’s Albany,” now known as “Hope Soars,” a foundation that has raised more than $15,000 to benefit the Parkinson’s Research Fund at Albany Med.

“Mark’s drive to help people live with Parkinson’s is truly inspirational,” Dr. Molho said. “Helping us fund research initiatives is helping us better understand how to manage and hopefully someday defeat this disease.”

In 2013, Mark ran the New York City Marathon, finishing the 26.2 mile run in a time of 4 hours, 11 minutes.
In 2013, Mark ran the New York City Marathon, finishing the 26.2 mile run in a time of 4 hours, 11 minutes.
Now 56, Mark is training to run the New York City Marathon – for the second year in a row, currently averaging 45 training miles a week. He’s active in Pedaling for Parkinson’s, a cycling program developed specifically for those with the disease.

“There is no cure for Parkinson’s right now,” Mr. Burek said, emphasizing “right now.”

“But we have hope. We go day-to-day doing the little things hoping that someday they’ll add up to something big.”

Return to Our Stories

Y