“In the Fox Light:” An ongoing series on FoxFeed, in which we highlight someone who inspires us on their path toward a cure.
“I’ve never felt so embraced in my life,” says Dave Iverson of his experience running the 2011 ING NYC Marathon on behalf of Team Fox. At age 63, it was his first marathon. He was also one of the five Parkinson’s patients to run that year.
A member of MJFF’s Patient Council from Menlo Park, California, Dave is a longtime writer and correspondent for public broadcasting. He is the writer, correspondent and co-producer/director of the February 2009 PBS Frontline documentary My Father, My Brother and Me, which explored his family’s battle with Parkinson’s disease. He is also the producer of the Foundation’s video series, “The Parkinson’s Minute,” and its podcast series.
“The marathon changed my feelings about New York,” he says. “It was like running through one giant neighborhood with everyone cheering you on.” Also cheering him on were his daughter and son-in-law, extended family and four of his closest friends, who’d flown across the country to support him. And at mile 23, at the last Team Fox cheering section, was Michael J. Fox to support “an old runner like myself.”
After such an experience, perhaps it’s no surprise that Dave decided to run again. Like many patients, he reports that exercise, especially his marathon training, helps him manage his Parkinson’s. But it’s more than that, Dave says. “It’s rare to have the opportunity to be associated with something you believe in so completely. It’s just a feeling you want to capture again.”
But this year, Dave is doing something different. In addition to raising funds for Team Fox to benefit MJFF, he decided to raise something else—volunteers for clinical research. His goal is to register 100 new volunteers for Fox Trial Finder, whom he’s calling the “Fox 100.”
“I remember something Debi Brooks [MJFF’s Co-Founder] told me—that volunteering for a clinical trial for Parkinson’s could be just as important as writing a check to support that research. That stuck with me.”
Less than a year after the Foundation rolled out its clinical trial-matching tool, Fox Trial Finder, Dave has already connected with and participated in several trials—two genetics studies and a trial involving the supplement CoQ10. “Michael J. Fox once said that while PD is an individualized disease, it doesn’t come with a set of operating instructions for any of us. Exercising regularly is one way to take control. But so is participating in clinical research. Clinical trials could help us find that set of operating instructions we all want and need.”
Dave admits he is nervous about tackling this obstacle to research progress. But he believes there can be a clinical trial match for everyone. “That’s the great thing about Fox Trial Finder—even if you don’t find the trial that makes sense for you right now, you can in the future.”
And his friends who’d flown in to surprise him? This year, they’re not cheering Dave on from the sidelines; they’re running with him as members of Team Fox. “While they have other causes they believe in, they’re doing this to support my cause. That says a lot about what this Foundation inspires.”
Check out Dave’s Team Fox page to learn more, and to find out how you can become one of the “Fox 100.”
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