As someone who has worked for NASA for 30 years, Team Fox member David Morgan has spent more time than many contemplating outer space. He has met astronauts, sat in the cockpit of the Space Shuttle Discovery, and watched take off from the launch pad. So perhaps it’s no surprise that at his inaugural Team Fox event, set for April 18, you can eat barbeque under the Saturn V rocket. You can also meet an astronaut, Colonel Michael Richard “Rich” Clifford. But you won’t hear only about NASA at David’s event. You’ll learn more about Parkinson’s disease—the disease that both he and Clifford share.
Now 50, David was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s 10 years ago this month. “I’ve been lucky,” he says. “Parkinson’s has been kind to me,” and he’s continued to work at NASA in Huntsville, Alabama. Not long after Clifford shared his diagnosis with the world, David began to see how he might enlist his lifelong fascination with space to help speed a cure for his disease. Clifford, who recently joined The Michael J. Fox Foundation’s Patient Council, agreed to be the keynote speaker for David’s event. And his idea took flight.
With Clifford on board, David is aiming high for his first event, with a $50,000 fundraising goal. He says, “I may have bit off more than I can chew. But every dollar we raise will be more than we started with—and can help people like me live better.” His goal is for his event, entitled “His Flight—Our Fight,” to be as much an educational experience for guests as it is a fundraiser. Also speaking at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center will be representatives from Serina Therapeutics, a biotech firm working in PD research, and from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Neurology. “A lot of people still don’t know much about Parkinson’s,” says David. “But once they learn more, I believe they’ll be compelled to help do their part for the cause.”
While organizing his event, David has met more people who have PD. “Because I don’t belong to a support group, I didn’t know many other patients near me. What I’ve enjoyed most is the two great friends I’ve made—one who is newly diagnosed and another who’s had PD for 20 years.”
With his event just a few days away, David looks forward to sharing his journey with others—and to showing that a cure for Parkinson’s is within our reach. “If we can go to the moon, we can cure Parkinson’s. Both journeys require the same things: the right resources, smart people, and the belief we can do it.”
David also hopes to inspire others to start their own Team Fox events. The Michael J. Fox Foundation makes it easy to get involved through Team Fox, he says. He adds, “And I’m happy to do whatever I can to help others get started fundraising.”