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Year-End Update: Revisiting Scenes and People From 1986 View Stories : Fund-Raising Walk for Parkinson's

December 28, 1986

View has revisited some of the people and places it reported on in 1986 to update their stories. Among them:

--A shelter for the homeless that was itself homeless.

--An author who had new ideas about how to market and promote his book.

--The campaign to save Nancy Reagan's 1981 inaugural gown, which is stretching under the weight of its bugle beads.

Michel Monnot, the Minnesota professor with Parkinson's disease who walked 1,300 miles through snow, hail and rainstorms from his home to California between September, 1985, and January, 1986, to raise money for research on Parkinson's, is now writing a book about his experience. He will return to Los Angeles this week to get new support projects started for 1987.

The money that Monnot, 45, raised from his walk, $400,000, has been distributed in research grants to 26 physicians and Ph.D.s in the United States, Canada and Sweden who are studying Parkinson's disease and working toward a cure for it.

"I'm feeling pretty well, but I don't think I want to walk 15 miles a day again this year," Monnot said in a telephone interview from his home in Northfield, Minn., about 40 miles south of Minneapolis. "My physical condition has gone down since the walk. My morale is better, but my legs are giving me trouble. It's harder for me to walk now."

Since he was diagnosed as having Parkinson's nine years ago, Monnot has had to retire from teaching French at Carleton University in Northfield and now spends much of his time assisting in starting new support groups and chapters for the American Parkinson's Disease Assn., based in New York.

Monnot, who was born in France, spent most of last year working on his book, which he hopes to finish by spring. His working title for it is "From Rage to Courage and Back."

"It's about the walk," Monnot explained. "But it's also about what happens to you when you become a Parkie or Parkinsonian (terms Monnot uses to describe people with his disease). It's also against the (federal government) establishment that leaves it up to people, the public, to find funds for research for Parkinson's. You'll find a little bit about the conflicts between organizations (raising funds for various causes), too. It all makes me very angry."

Monnot's son, Patrick, who took a semester off from his studies of Chinese at the University of Wisconsin to assist his father with the fund-raising walk, has finished college and is now teaching English in a college in a small town near Canton, China.

"Patrick wasn't able to be home with us for Christmas, but my daughters are here," Monnot said. "And I am a grandfather now. My daughter Natalie had a little boy, Eric. I'm quite proud of him and of being a grandfather."

While in Los Angeles this week, Monnot will be giving a talk about his disease to the Parkinson's support group in Whittier and organizing a Michel Monnot Walkathon across the country scheduled for April 4.

Simultaneous Walking

"We're going to ask everybody who can to walk five miles that day, and they will be encouraged to gather pledges for their walk," Monnot said. "The walkathon will be sponsored by the APDA and coordinated through every Parkinson's support group in the nation. We're recommending that they have a picnic or a raffle after the walk has ended. People all across the country will be walking simultaneously, at noon in New York, 9 a.m. in Los Angeles."

Monnot said that the APDA is also planning a cruise to Alaska from Dec. 6-13 to raise money for Parkinson's research. "The cost is about $1,600 a person," said Monnot. "Of that, $150 will go to APDA for research."

Persons interested in either the April 4 Michel Monnot Walkathon or the December Alaska cruise may write to APDA at 116 John St., Suite 417, New York, N.Y. 10038 or call the association at (212) 732-9550. --LYNN SIMROSS

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