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Portland art teacher builds mascot to spread awareness of Parkinson's disease

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A Portland art teacher has built a mascot named Parky to help spread awareness of Parkinson's disease.

Carrie Berning and her students at Franklin High School built the six-foot statue of a raccoon ahead of the 4th World Parkinson Congress (WPC 2016) being held in Portland this fall.

Berning's own dad was diagnosed with Parkinson's five years ago.

"My dad was always in the back of my mind while we were working on this ... it holds a special place in my heart," Berning said.

So, why a raccoon? Dan Baker, a member of the local organizing committee, says the animal adapts, much like people with Parkinson's must do. Plush versions of Parky are showing up in photo ops, being taken around the world. Proceeds from the sale of these Parkies go to the WPC Travel Grant Program, which provides funding for people interested in attending WPC 2016, but cannot afford the travel costs.

Parky is a bit of a friendly raccoon -- Berning and her students opted to make Parky claw-less.

"I think the kids here at Franklin High School with their teacher Carrie have done a great job to take some of the edge off, you might say!" Baker said.

For more information about Parky the Raccoon, click here. For more information about WPC 2016, click here.

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