Michael J. Fox with Jason, Carly and baby Cohen at the annual Team Fox ING NYC Marathon pre-race dinner
We at The Michael J. Fox Foundation are sending our thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by Super Storm Sandy. Many people in the New York area, including some members of the MJFF staff, continue to be dramatically impacted by the aftermath of the hurricane with widespread damage and power outages.
This weekend, we were privileged to gather with more than 200 Team Fox athletes scheduled to participate in the ING NYC Marathon on Sunday, November 4. For many of these athletes, it would have been their first marathon. Scores were running in honor or memory of loved ones with Parkinson’s disease; five are living with Parkinson’s themselves. Many had flown from around the world to participate. The race’s unprecedented cancellation shortly after 5 p.m. Friday was the right decision — though it inevitably brought great disappointment for the runners.
Before every marathon, Team Fox hosts a pre-race dinner, and these dinners are among our favorite events of the year. Charged with the energy and anticipation of the following morning, athletes connect with each other, share their stories, and go through final mental preparations to undertake their feat of endurance. In spite of the cancellation of this year’s marathon in New York City, our pre-race dinner went on as planned. Its location had to be moved because of lingering power outages, but Saturday evening at 5, the majority of the Team Fox 2012 ING NYC Marathon team came together with each other, Foundation staff and Michael J. Fox — in commiseration, and in hope for a future without Parkinson’s disease.
“We share your disappointment. After all your hard work, you don’t get to finish this thing off tomorrow. Yet none of what you have done is in vain,” Michael said. “We are deeply proud of you, and tremendously grateful for your efforts. Some things are simply out of our control. But when you live with Parkinson’s disease, you come to learn that control is illusory at best,” he added with characteristic humor.
On Sunday morning, in a continuing impromptu show of positive energy, thousands of runners – including dozens of Team Foxers — showed up in Central Park and ran an unofficial marathon, half marathon or just did a 6-mile loop. Crowds of supporters cheered alongside, and it felt almost like a marathon. Other runners in their thousands mobilized to volunteer in relief efforts to aid some of the region’s most devastated areas, including Staten Island. Even as members of our own staff continue to grapple with the devastating aftermath of Sandy, and as we collectively mourn the tragic losses the storm brought, we have never been more inspired than we are right now by the spirit of resilience and optimism we saw this weekend.
We share this with you, our dedicated friends and supporters, in the hope that it may bring some small comfort, especially to those still contending with the effects of this historic storm. Please join us in saluting our 2012 Team Fox ING NYC Marathon team, who collectively raised over $600,000 for Parkinson’s research without ever setting foot on the race course, and all the runners who volunteered to help the Northeast battle back. Wherever you are, we hope you are safe and cherishing your family and friends.