Kate DeWitte is on a mission. The Shepaug Valley High School senior is striving to help other students cope with a loved one's diagnosis of Parkinson's disease.

The 18-year-old Washington resident has spent the past few months educating other students and raising more than $1,000 to benefit the Parkinson's Disease Foundation (PDF) in honor of her father.

After Kate's father was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson's disease in 2005, she had many questions about the disease and how it impacted their family.

Several years later, when the opportunity arose to choose a requisite year-long senior project, Kate saw the opportunity to better educate herself about the disease and make a difference for others.

"When I started to see the progression of Parkinson's disease in my dad,' " she said, "I wished there was another kid just like me who understood what it felt like to go through the same thing."

"My primary motivation is to be a mentor for others my age," she said, "and help with their understanding of Parkinson's."

To reach that goal, she spent the past year researching Parkinson's and educating her classmates using presentations and awareness billboards.

She also hosted creative fundraisers including a sale of handmade snowflakes in the winter, on-campus Zumba classes and a bake sale.

"Ms. DeWitte's passionate work at the Shepaug Valley High School reminds us that the fight against Parkinson's disease comes in all shapes and sizes," said PDF Executive Director Robin Elliott. "And that every effort makes a difference."

"At PDF we are inspired by her efforts to fund the most promising research and raise awareness in her school community," he said.

To support Kate's fundraising efforts, visit her personal fundraising page at www.support.pdf.org/Kidsagainstpd.

For more information, contact PDF at 800-457-6676, info@pdf.org or www.pdf.org.

Information for this story was provided by the Parkinson's Disease Foundation.