Lucy Fox, my Mom, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease more than a decade ago at age 50. She became involved with The Michael J. Fox Foundation this past year during my fundraising run/adventure of a lifetime on the Pacific Crest Trail. She has quietly inspired for her entire life and she certainly did not lose that gift when she was diagnosed. She has been determined to live an active life as close to the one she led prior to PD as possible. It is safe to say she’s succeeded (her vegetable garden certainly hasn’t noticed a drop in her energy levels). I was asked to describe my Mom’s involvement with the MJFF, so I figured I’d go straight to the source.
A few months back my Mom was asked what my West Coast run had meant to her. This is how she described it:
“When my son Sam told me he planned to run and hike from Canada to Mexico along the Pacific Crest Trail — in two months — I thought he was nuts. Not even taking into account the snowpack, the forest fires and the mountain lions, that would be an average of 43 miles per day, over mountains, deserts and streams. But when he told me that this would be a charitable endeavor, and that all funds raised would be donated to The Michael J. Fox Foundation, I knew he was serious, and my heart was touched. Sam raised over $150,000, which was doubled by the Brin Wojcicki Challenge. I am tremendously proud of him, and so pleased that he would devote his energies in this way — to a cause that benefits so many, and that means so much to me.”
While that project was the catalyst for Lucy’s involvement with MJFF, her support of the Foundation’s mission did not end when my run did. I asked her what it was about The Michael J. Fox Foundation specifically that she appreciated.
“I always assumed others would support activities that raised funds to help find a cure. It was my job to just cope as well as I could with the disease. Now that I am involved with MJFF, I realize that we are all in this together, and that there is an important role for everyone to play.”
Since my Mom became an active member in the MJFF community I have noticed a change in her. Her inclusion in this fight has allowed her to inspire others, but also to be inspired by everyone else on the team. That message of positivity and inclusion comes from the very top. Which is why, when asked about her favorite experience so far with the MJFF, she replied:
“It surprised me, because I am not one to seek out celebrities, but meeting Michael J. Fox last November at the gala in New York was an inspiration. We were both leaning, he to the right, me to the left, so we supported each other and laughed and chatted a bit. Now when I have a bad day, I think of how he would handle it, and it is easier somehow.”
This is an amazing gift. I have seen my Mother inspire people, inspire me, with her resolve and her ability to remain unchanged by PD, but I had never seen anyone return the favor for her. I am thankful to Michael J. Fox and the rest of the Foundation for breathing new life into her fight and including her in such an amazing and energetic community. But, true to her stoic constitution, she made sure to end our ‘interview’ by downplaying her own problems.
“My experience with PD hasn't been terrible, and it has taught me that everyone has their problems and issues. Honestly speaking, MJFF shows me so many people doing so many different things, I have no choice but to keep on plugging!”
With Lucy Fox, and the countless others that make up The Michael J. Fox Foundation family spearheading this fight, I don’t see much of a future for Parkinson’s disease.