This summer and fall, four Tour de Fox cycling events will take place across the United States and Canada. Last year's three-ride Series attracted more than 900 cyclists, galvanized 5,700 donations and raised a whopping $830,000 to help close the gap on a cure for Parkinson's disease (PD). This year, we've added a fourth location in the beautiful foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Diane Wilson from Greenville, South Carolina Tells Us Why She Rides
Diane was diagnosed with Parkinson's four years ago, but hasn't let that, or anything, slow her down. After reading about last year's Tour, Diane reached out to The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) to see how she could help and get involved for the first time. Having worked for the Greenville Convention and Visitor's Bureau for the past 20 years, she knew that Greenville would be the ideal spot for a southeastern-based fourth event. And we agree! On Saturday, September 23, cyclists and supporters will inaugurate Tour de Fox Blue Ridge.
We chatted with Diane to find out what she loves about Greenville, how long it's been since she hopped on a bike and how she's been thriving since her diagnosis.
MJFF: What made you decide to throw Greenville's hat in the ring as a Tour de Fox location?
Diane: Greenville is not only a gorgeous city, but we're extremely bike friendly! Also, we're only a few hours away from just about anywhere in the Southeast. And at the end of September, the leaves will be turning and the humidity will be lifting -- it will be beautiful!
Of course, having Tour de Fox come to Greenville also allows me to get involved and support the Foundation's work. One of my good friends, Susie Bayne, has young-onset Parkinson's and she also works in the hospitality industry here. We're both excited about meeting members of the Parkinson's community in Greenville and beyond.
MJFF: Are you a cyclist?
Diane: Thirty years ago, I did a lot of long-distance cycling while I was living in California, but I haven't really ridden since. I'm excited to get back on a bike that isn't stationary!
MJFF: What are you most excited about in regards to the actual event?
Diane: I'm looking forward to the fun and excitement of the actual day and meeting people. I'm hoping that Susie and I get to meet other people like us who have Parkinson's but are working full time and can't go to support groups during the day. And of course, 100 percent of proceeds from Blue Ridge go directly to research programs, and that's something to really motivate me!
MJFF: How are you preparing for the event?
Diane: As we get closer, I'll be working on publicity, marketing, and outreach to support the event ... and doing lots of long rides!
Visit tourdefox.org to learn more about registering for any of the rides, including Pacific Northwest, Great Lakes, Sonoma Wine Country and Blue Ridge. Cyclists of all ages can choose from a 10-mile, 35-mile or 75-mile ride.
Can't be there in person? Support the Tour from afar and donate: 100 percent of Blue Ridge proceeds go to high-impact programs to speed better treatments and a cure for Parkinson's.
Laura Amann is an award-winning freelance writer who contributes personal stories about living with Parkinson's to the MJFF blog