In advance of this weekend's TCS New York City Marathon, two MJFF Board members share their experiences running and fundraising while living with Parkinson's disease (PD) -- and how this endeavor is a natural extension of their leadership at the Foundation.
In 2015, Andrew Creighton ran NYC for Team Fox (the grassroots fundraising arm of the Foundation), the same year he also became a Board member. He currently serves as president of Vice Media and lives with young-onset Parkinson's. Mark Booth joined the Board of Directors in 2011; he is a retired media and aviation industry executive and has lived with PD for 15 years.
Andrew: Mark, it's amazing to see you running and raising so much money for the Foundation. When I announced I was running the marathon for Team Fox last year, it was also the first time I shared my diagnosis with many of my friends and colleagues -- and my first time fundraising. The response was overwhelming and humbling. What has it meant to you to see family and friends share their encouragement and giving?
Mark: Thanks Andrew, it has been an incredible experience thus far. I was diagnosed 15 years ago and it is really a miracle to be in a position to run at all -- let alone a marathon. The amount of support, as you say, has been overwhelming. One of the blessings of having a persistent illness like PD is that you see the kindness and generosity of spirit in so many people.
Andrew: Training for a marathon is tough for anyone. For me, it added some challenges that ended up helping me generally. What's been most interesting for you training while living with PD?
Mark: The mental challenge is in many ways more difficult than the physical challenge. On the long runs, I learned to watch my thoughts and I realized I had a lot of unhelpful stuff going on. Now, when a negative thought arises, I swipe it away. Getting the right attitude is half the battle.
Andrew: Why was it important for you to be involved on the MJFF Board? How has it impacted you?
Mark: MJFF is an outstanding group of people dedicated to finding a cure to PD. The Foundation is beautifully run and managed, which says a lot about how Michael went about setting it up, and his inspired leadership continues on.
Andrew: I actually don't like running that much, but doing the marathon was an incredible experience. Seeing all the support from friends and strangers and the Team Fox cheer stations along the way was amazing. What are you looking forward to on race day?
Mark: I'm looking forward to having finished the marathon -- hopefully. That's the goal. I certainly won't be setting any speed records. And I'm looking forward to the excitement of running with 50,000 other marathoners and having 2 million spectators rooting for you. It sounds thrilling.
Andrew: Everyone's personal race is physically and mentally challenging; my only tip is when it gets tough, take a deep breath and look around at the amazing city and the other runners challenging themselves as you are, smile and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Good luck!
Mark: Thanks Andrew! You've been an inspiration.