CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Students with the University of Virginia’s largest student-run organization are gearing up to flip thousands of flapjacks that will all go toward a great cause.

Over the past 15 years, Pancakes for Parkinson’s has raised more than $500,000 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's research.

These students are making a real and meaningful impact on Parkinson’s research, and for many of them it’s personal.

“My dad was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s when I was a sophomore in high school,” Gabby Beard, the co-chair of Pancakes for Parkinson’s, said.

For Beard, a fourth-year at UVA, the 15th annual Pancakes for Parkinson’s fundraiser planned for Saturday, October 13, is deeply personal. “This past summer he actually passed away from Parkinson’s and Lewy body, so this year being co-chair and having that happen – it’s like especially important to me that we reach our goal."

On Saturday, as the students work toward this year's goal of raising $70,000, Beard believes they will have a little help from above. “I think he’s definitely going to be here with all of us on Saturday.” 

Saturday's event will be a full day of flapjack flipping for the organization's dedicated members.

“Our executive team of about 35 students wakes up at 4 a.m. and we come to the lawn at 4:30 and start setting up,” Beard said.

Between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., hundreds of people are expected to come by the lawn to dine and donate.

“The event itself, it’s so big and you see the community really coming together,” Quinn Funston, the group’s head of fundraising, said.

Hitting the fundraising goal is also important for Funston, whose father continues to battle this neurological disease.

“The hardest part personally has been to see my dad become a different person,” Funston said. “A lot of people think of Parkinson’s and they think of an arm tremor or a leg tremor, but it really does affect the inner workings of your brain and it affects who you are as a person.”

Last year, the group raised $63,000 and this year, up to this point, members have raised more than $40,000 and they expect to raise another $20,000 on Saturday.

Click here if you'd like to donate and help these students hit their fundraising goal.