Conn. Girl Wants People to 'Shake It Off' for Parkinson's Disease

Zoe Butchen hopes people will dance and donate to Parkinson's disease.

ByABC News
October 15, 2014, 1:58 PM

— -- If your Facebook feed just stopped being filled with videos of people dowsing themselves with ice for the ALS ice bucket challenge, prepare yourself now to see people "Shake It Off" for Parkinson’s disease.

The viral fundraising campaign using the hit song by pop star Taylor Swift as its theme is the brainchild of a 14-year-old Connecticut girl whose father was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease last year.

“My kids joke about my hand shaking and they'll say, 'Dad, shake it off. Just shake it off,'" Jeff Butchen, a 52-year-old Parkinson's patient, told ABC News.

"We were sitting around in August and my daughter said, 'You have to listen to this, Dad. This song is for you,'" Butchen said.

Butchen's ninth-grade daughter, Zoe, was, of course, talking about "Shake It Off," a single off Taylor Swift's upcoming album that debuted in August.

“Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake ... I shake it off, I shake it off,” the lyrics read.

Zoe, who lives with her dad, older brother and mom in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and loves to dance, got the idea to turn the coincidence of the song’s lyrics into a fundraising campaign to raise money for Parkinson’s disease.

The "Dance/Shake/Donate" campaign, which the Butchen family launched Friday with their own video, asks people to film themselves dancing and shaking to “Shake It Off,” to post the video on Facebook, to make a donation through this link and then challenge others in the video to do the same.

In less than one week, the campaign has already raised close to $6,000, according to Butchen.

“She’s been floored by it and excited,” Butchen said of his philanthropic daughter. “She’s been ecstatic at the power of social media and kindness.”

“Her friends have been sending her emails saying, 'This is amazing,' and telling her that they have an uncle or a grandfather with Parkinson's or know someone who has it,” he said.

The family has teamed with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research to collect the donations, 100 percent of which will go directly to research, according to Butchen.

“It’s all because Zoe heard the song and had the spark of an idea,” he said.

One person the family has not yet heard from is the superstar who inspired it all: Taylor Swift.

“We would love to see Taylor tweet it out and connect her song to a cause, to a young girl who’s not only trying to make a difference in her father’s life but in the lives of millions of people with Parkinson’s disease,” Butchen said.

Butchen, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s last April at the age of 51, said that not everyone in his life knew that he had Parkinson's disease until they saw the video and learned of the campaign.

“It’s nothing to hide,” he said. “If people don’t know, they won’t take action.”

You could be a VIP at Taylor Swift’s concert on “Good Morning America”! Click HERE to find out about GMA's "Ultimate 'Shake It Off' With Taylor Swift Contest."