Today's Team Fox New Member Moment shines a spotlight on new member Stephanie Nykerk, who raced in the Pikes Peak Ascent in Manitou Springs, CO (a 13.32 mile race up to the summit of Pike’s Peak, an elevation of 14,115). She has already raised nearly $16,500, surpassing her two fundraising goals, and continues to raise even more critical dollars for research. She does this all in honor of her dad, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s last August. We sat down with Stephanie to learn more about her participation in Pike’s Peak Ascent and her advice for new members interested in getting involved with Team Fox:
What was your inspiration for joining Team Fox?
After my dad’s Parkinson’s diagnosis, I really wanted to help him. Living 1,200 miles away leaves me with few options. Every time we saw each other or talked on the phone, I would try to encourage him, but knew I needed to do more than just “talk.” I started following The Michael J. Fox Foundation on Facebook to read articles and hear more of what was going on in the PD community. I then discovered Team Fox. There were no organized events in my area, so I looked into starting my own. I knew I wanted to attempt something that wasn’t easy because I wanted to raise money, but also inspire my dad. I joined Team Fox because I believe in the research that MJFF is funding and I am helping speed a cure for Parkinson’s because I want my dad to live a long, healthy life.
Considering this is your first time fundraising for an event, did you find it to be challenging?
Yes and no. Working full time and having other things on my plate, I found it difficult to put the time into the fundraising that I thought it deserved. However, family and friends came through with amazing support. Although I ran the race, it was a team effort and my entire family got involved. My brother designed shirts, my dad’s office shared my event on their Facebook page and reached out to their contacts, my mom emailed the local donors to invited them to an ice cream social the day before the event and friends shared my story online. It was a true TEAM effort. When I originally set my goal of $7,815, I was nervous about not reaching it. It was $1 for every vertical foot of the race. One week before my race, I had more than surpassed my goal, so I increased it to $14,115 — the elevation of the summit of Pikes Peak and the finish line. And then I passed it for a second time! Not only did it motivate me to succeed with my race, but it motivated my dad as well.
What race did you participate in? Why did you choose this particular race?
Pike’s Peak Ascent in Manitou Springs, CO is a 13.32 mile race up to the summit of Pike’s Peak, the highest summit of its range in the Rocky Mountains. I wanted a challenge because I've struggled with aches and pains over the years and wanted to overcome them. If I am asking my dad to fight the pains in his body, I felt I needed to do the same.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in getting involved with Team Fox?
Go for it! Every dollar counts and anything can help.
Thank you Stephanie for sharing your inspiring story and for helping us speed a cure! Check out this great video of Stephanie on the day of the race.
If you’re feeling inspired and want to get involved in a local race in your area or create your own unique fundraiser for Parkinson's research, join Team Fox today.