We might get older, but when we’re around our parents, we never quite stop being kids. And when they get sick (which they probably will), it stings.

Cambridge-based photographer Diana Levine was in college at New York University when her mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a chronic and progressive neurological disorder, 12 years ago.

“It makes you grow up faster [having] a parent who has a degenerative disease. It teaches both of us to appreciate every day, to appreciate the time we have together. We have to appreciate the time together,” she says.

The realization wasn’t immediate. In fact, Levine’s photography career led her mom to the right diagnosis.


“I had an assignment to photograph a public event,” says Levine, who now shoots the likes of Kim Kardashian. “I found out about an annual Parkinson’s Unity Walk fundraiser. We decided to go, and it was there that she was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I walk like everyone here!’ She recognized it, and this confirmed it for her.”

Happily, her mom is thriving thanks to regular exercise, including yoga, and regular interaction with Levine’s 4-year-old and 2-year-old, for whom she babysits every week. (“They love going to ‘Bubby house,'” she says.)

Now, Levine wants to raise awareness to help others.

She’ll throw a swanky photo party at the Seaport’s District Hall to benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research on Sept. 9 at 6 p.m. Tickets for the fundraiser go on sale in July. (Sign up for alerts here, learn more about volunteering here and donate here.)

Diana Levine with her mom (Courtesy)

“I can’t do anything to change her diagnosis, but I can raise money for research, especially since Parkinson’s tends to be a secretive condition. A lot of people aren’t ‘out’ about it. A lot of families don’t talk about it. I want to make it an open thing, because it’s part of our life, and I hope it helps other people,” she says, noting that she’s met many people in the Jewish community who also suffer from the disease.

“It’s prominent in Ashkenazi Jews,” she says.

Levine and several professional photographer colleagues will style and direct photo shoots for guests, whether you want a professional photo for work, a family photo for your wall or a glammed-up social media selfie. And don’t worry if you’re not quite ready for your close-up: There’s hair styling from James Joseph Salon and manicures by Polished Boston. Also enjoy a cash bar (which will make your shoot seem so much more relaxed), artwork by people with Parkinson’s from the Art Cart and raffle items from the Red Sox and others.

Most of all, she hopes the soiree raises awareness for an often devastating illness.

“If I had to offer one thing that has helped me personally, it is connecting with people in the Parkinson’s community outside of your family. I’ve met so many incredible young people through my work with Team Fox that are going through the same emotions and journey as our family, and being able to talk openly with people who understand what I’m talking about is really important,” she says.

Learn more about Parkinson’s here.

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