They met by chance. But considering how much Laurine Fillo and Ken MacKenzie have in common, perhaps it was only a matter of time.
They live near each other in Calgary, Alberta. Ken teaches at the school where Laurine’s niece and nephew are students. Both have young-onset Parkinson’s disease (YOPD). Laurine was diagnosed 10 years ago, at 38. Ken was diagnosed a year ago, at 43. Each is passionate about staying fit. Since his diagnosis, Ken has become an avid Spinner, also competing in bike races and triathlons. Laurine manages her PD through walking, running, dance and yoga. They feel better, physically and mentally, when they’re working out. Just as important is doing something they believe can help combat their disease.
They met at a YOPD support group, though Laurine attends meetings infrequently, and soon became friends. Laurine and her family had been talking about starting their own event to raise funds for Parkinson’s research; Ken had the idea for a Spinning fundraiser. Forming Team Macquarie, their mutual friend Dave Lougheed and his colleagues Tara Baker, Aaron Johnson and Trish Leadbeater took the lead by joining Team Fox and helping organize this event. “I couldn’t hide my tremors anymore,” Ken says. “I decided I might as well go for it.”
On November 4, Pedal for Parkinson’s Research made its debut as a stationary bike relay race. Calgary’s Trico Centre for Family Wellness was packed on race day, with 150 bikers and dozens of volunteers and supporters cheering them on. “It was a little crowded,” says Laurine. “But the energy was electric. Several teams came in costume and are already planning what to wear at our next event.”
In 25 teams of six people, each participant rode for 10 minutes to cover the greatest collective distance in an hour. For many, it was a family event, with students from Ken’s school forming teams to support their teacher and coach. He was especially proud when one of his volleyball teams took home the grand prize.
While they originally hoped to raise $10,000 or $15,000, Ken and Laurine instead found themselves with a total of over $58,000. In accordance with the staff support policy at Macquarie Private Wealth, where Dave Lougheed is an employee, all funds raised by the event were matched by The Macquarie Group Foundation — bringing the sum to more than $116,000. They also made inroads with the wider Calgary community, and across generations. “We couldn’t believe we had created this,” says Ken. They’re already planning their next Team Fox event.
“Parkinson’s can be a frightening disease,” says Laurine. “But the more people are educated, the more they can help. And it lifts a weight.” Adds Ken, “The kids at my school now understand why my hand shakes. We joke about it, and it’s lighter for all of us. They also know Parkinson’s isn’t just a disease for older people.”
Their advice for fellow Team Fox members? “Plan a daytime event the whole family can take part in. Keep it short and sweet — no more than two hours,” says Laurine. Ken says, “Have fun. Make it about getting people together. For us, that’s what Team Fox is all about.”