We’re expanding this series to hear from MJFF staff on their travels, past and future, as they attend conferences, Team Fox events, support group meetings, and more. They share their goals and reflect on their experiences.
Members of the Development team frequently travel to Team Fox events, where they help support our members and connect with the local Parkinson’s community. Stephanie Paddock, senior associate director, Team Fox, and Sara Gogolak, advancement officer, recently traveled to the New England Parkinson’s Ride on September 7.
Hosted by Team Fox member Edna Woods and the Woods family, the New England Parkinson’s Ride is now in its sixth year. Taking place in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, the ride offers 10-mile, 30-mile, 50-mile and 100-mile routes. With 525 riders in 2013, the event is a top 3 Team Fox fundraiser, and is on track to raise a remarkable $240,000 for The Michael J. Fox Foundation this year. The inspiration behind the ride came after Edna’s son Chris, an avid cyclist, was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s. When the Woods family couldn’t find a cycling event to benefit Parkinson’s research, they decided to create their own.
For Stephanie Paddock, this was her third New England Parkinson’s Ride. For Sara Gogolak, it was her first. They both share their experiences and favorite moments.
Sara says: “I’d heard so much about this event going into it. But it exceeded all expectations. The Woods makes all the riders feel like members of their family. And you can tell how much this all means to Chris. At these events, my goal is to connect with as many MJFF supporters as possible. I met with a donor to MJFF, who’d come to volunteer her time. She was so inspired hearing about the ride, she wanted to be a part of it.”
Stephanie says: “My goal was to do whatever I can to help support the Woods family. What they started as a small, local event has really grown. It’s amazing how many riders and volunteers there are now, and how far they come for this—some from as far as Washington state and San Francisco. And with four distances, the ride offers something for everyone, including a number of people with Parkinson’s. One cyclist told me, ‘I don’t even like riding, but if Susan Mollohan can do 50 miles and has PD, then why can’t I?’”