In the Fox Light: An ongoing series on FoxFeed, in which we highlight someone who inspires us on their path toward a cure.
For Cindy Todd, of Victoria, British Columbia, it was a ride her dad, Alf, dreamed of undertaking one more time. When they were young, her two brothers, Adam and Aaron, had biked the 1600 km (994 miles) with him, from Victoria to San Francisco. Ten years ago, Cindy had accompanied Alf on the same journey. After his Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2007, he had a wish: to ride together as a family, while he still could.
To help speed a cure for this disease, the Todds decided to turn their trek into a fundraiser. Because it was their first time creating such an event, Cindy turned to Team Fox. Thus Parky’s Peddlers was born, with the goal of raising dollars for The Michael J. Fox Foundation and a local Parkinson’s center in Victoria.
Joining the team were several friends of their family. But through word of mouth—and the Team Fox network—Parky’s Peddlers attracted several riders unknown to the Todds, including one father and son traveling all the way from Tennessee. The 16 riders were well cared for en route by a nine-person support team comprising Cindy’s husband and two children, her brothers’ wives and their children, and their mom.
To prepare for the ride, they began training in January, building up to 100 km (62 mile) rides on the weekend. Setting off on June 8, the team averaged a daily 120 km (75 miles) for the next 14 days. Initially, she says, riding felt monotonous. But as they biked further south along the coast, they fell into a routine and enjoyed the beautiful scenery.
Cindy says, “It was easier than my first ride with my dad, as I was properly trained this time. We all were. Even so, there is no way to truly prepare for a ride of this magnitude. The physical aspect was the greatest challenge.” It was especially difficult, she says, for Alf. “It may have been too much for him. But he was absolutely determined to finish.” He did, and continues to face Parkinson’s with a positive attitude—despite its difficulties.
Alf was not the only rider with Parkinson’s. Bruce Jordan, now 46, had been diagnosed at age 39 with young-onset PD. He joined the team to motivate himself to maintain an exercise regimen, which helps reduce the severity of his symptoms. He also wanted to raise money for The Michael J. Fox Foundation—a “source of inspiration and hope” to him. He rung in as the top fundraiser at $3,450, of the more than $20,000 the team raised.
For Cindy, what she appreciated most about their journey was the camaraderie and sense of accomplishment they shared. “While we didn’t all meet until that first day of the ride,” she says, “we bonded immediately. For our family, it means so much to have done this for my dad, and to make him proud.”
Another highlight was seeing how much her two sons enjoyed the trip. Her seven-year-old rode over the Golden Gate Bridge on a trailer bike, attached to another rider. He’s already asking when he can make the 1600 km trek. Cindy’s told him he has to wait at least a few more years.
In the meantime, she has set her sights on running a marathon for Team Fox. Interest is also growing in another ride. Cindy is looking for more hands on deck to help her organize the event, which is tentatively set for 2014. “We had so much fun together, it was a bit of a letdown after it was all over,” Cindy says. So the team members living locally have reunited several times since the ride. “It was like being a kid at camp again. We were all together, and you just didn’t want it to end.”