Charitable Giving Reaches New Heights in Amarillo, TX

The Parkinson Alliance is excited to announce an unprecedented $100,000 research donation from the Amarillo Area Parkinson Support Group (AAPSG) .

image Jack Breitling
Susan Imke
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L to R:
Jo Bridwell
Susan Imke
Carol Breitling
Jack Breitling
Mayor Debra McCartt
Carl Ray Williams
Carol Walton
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Carl Ray Williams

This generous gift comes from the estate of Herbert Breitling and Louis Blackwell Breitling, longtime members of the Amarillo support group. The check was presented to Carol J. Walton, Executive Director of the Parkinson Alliance, at an award ceremony in Council Chambers of the City of Amarillo. Those in attendance included Mayor Debra McCartt, Jack and Carol Breitling, family members of the philanthropists, and board members from the Amarillo Area Parkinson Support Group. Carl Ray Williams, President of the AAPSG, and fellow board members researched several national organizations as potential recipients, and decided that the mission of The Parkinson Alliance, based in Princeton, NJ was an ideal match. The Parkinson Alliance is committed to raise funds for the most promising Parkinson’s disease research targeted to finding a cure. The Alliance is a unique non-profit organization in that 100% of all donations go directly to research. This is possible through its partnership with The Tuchman Foundation, which matches all donations to cover administrative costs for the organization.

The Amarillo Area Support Group also presented an additional award for $10,000 to the American Parkinson Disease Association, in recognition of the ongoing support services and dedication of APDA Coordinator Jo Bidwell, MSW of Covenant Health Systems in Lubbock.

Nephew Jack Breitling, a retired medical technologist in the Amarillo area, recounts that long before they met and began building their life together in the Texas Panhandle, Herbert Breitling and Louise Blackwell were savers. He was one of nine children born in 1912 to farmers in Ennis TX, and she was the daughter of the Santa Fe stationmaster in the nearby rural community of Channing. Louise’s family lived above the train station, where she and an older sister graduated from high school. Education was a priority for her family, and she moved to Canyon to attend West Texas Normal College (now affiliated with Texas A & M University) to become a teacher.

Herbert and Louise fell in love and married in 1940, becoming a part of what Peter Jennings would later call The Greatest Generation, those incredibly resourceful people who survived the Great Depression and WWII and learned to view life from a determined and optimistic perspective. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Herbert joined the Army and serve in the Military Police, transporting POW’s by boat back to prison camps in the U.S. After the war, the Breitlings had already saved enough money to lease and later purchase farms in small towns near Amarillo. Louise was proficient in shorthand and became the secretary for the base commander at Amarillo Air Force Base. After the based closed in 1968, she resourcefully managed a property of 200 homes built on the base site.

In 1976, Louise was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, but continued to work until 1990, when she and Herbert retired from the farm. They moved later to an assisted living facility in Amarillo. Together they decided to donate $100,000 of their estate to Parkinson’s research, and determined that the Amarillo Area Parkinson Support Group would be their partner in that effort. Their decision to route the initial gift through the Amarillo Area Parkinson Support Group was in gratitude for the education and ongoing support they had received regarding living with PD. Louise wanted the local group to be acknowledged so that other patients and families might become aware of and benefit from their services.

Louise Blackwell Breitling wanted to insure that their donation would be used:

Carl Williams’s wife Melnora also has had Parkinson’s disease for many years, and he reiterated during the ceremony how proud the Amarillo Area Parkinson Support group was to channel the Breitling gift to a national organization that will ensure the monies will be used for research.