In fall 1999, Woody Shackleton was at Foundry Networks when it earned a place in Wall Street history as the second-best initial public offering debut ever. Thanks to this success, Woody was able to retire early. But another door would soon open to him.
In 2001, Woody’s father-in-law, Harry, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Through the family’s search to learn more, they stumbled upon the recently established Michael J. Fox Foundation. He credits MJFF with helping him and his wife, Denise, better understand PD and how their family could stay connected to the field’s latest developments; they soon became significant donors.
Woody recalls: “The more people we met, the clearer it became that this group had the strategic vision and the right caliber people to chart a new course that would take us to the cure we all wanted.”
The Shackletons’ involvement with MJFF soon became a family affair. In 2006, Woody’s younger daughter, Megan, joined the MJFF staff full-time, working there for the next four years.
In 2007, Woody became a member of MJFF’s Board of Directors. At the time, one question before the Board involved Team Fox, launched the previous year. He says, “I really pushed to expand it as a means to increase awareness and raise funds for research. It’s a tremendous feel-good community surrounding a shared cause.” The remarkable subsequent growth of Team Fox, which has raised nearly $25 million to date, is one of his proudest contributions as a Board member.
All four Shackleton children have carried the Team Fox banner. In her role as Team Fox Officer, Megan was instrumental in helping to advance the program; she also ran four marathons as a member, raising over $66,000. In 2011, Courtney, the eldest, helped organize the San Francisco Young Professionals for Team Fox. And twins Kyle and Drew ran the 2009 Chicago marathon and qualified for the 2012 Olympic trials wearing their Team Fox bibs, donating their prize money to MJFF as the fourth and fifth American finishers.
At a Board meeting in 2011, Woody learned that the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) faced difficulty recruiting men over the age of 60 with no biological PD connection. Fitting those criteria, Woody agreed to participate. “It’s good to be a part of the day-to-day combat to find a cure up close,” he says of his participation.
Woody became Board Chairman in 2012, which he deems an honor and a privilege. As Chairman, he pushes for aggressive, novel approaches. “We must do whatever it takes to attract the capital required to keep driving all avenues toward a cure,” he says.
“When the final chapter is written, not only will MJFF have played a key role in finding a cure for PD, but it also will have changed the paradigm for how medical research is pursued. That’s a real game-changer.”