To what extreme would you venture to raise funds and awareness for Parkinson's disease? For 18-year old Canadian magician Mark Correia, spending two weeks buckled into a straitjacket seemed to fit the bill. Inspired by Michael J. Fox-- the actor who first sparked his interest in acting-- Mark's Escaping Parkinson's stunt will not only set the world record for the longest amount of time spent in a straitjacket, but aims to simultaneously raise $25,000 for Team Fox.†
Before beginning his corageous and zany effort, we caught up with Mark to see how he was preparing:
Youíve taken an incredibly unique approach to raising awareness and funds for Team Fox. Tell us about Escaping Parkinsonís and your inspiration to get involved!
I have been interested in acting ever since I saw Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future at a very young age. When I was fourteen, I learned to escape from a straitjacket, and I began playing with the idea of setting a world record. I thought about how many magicians were trying to break the record for ďfastest straitjacket escapeĒ and figured I would do something different. For me, the scariest part about being in a straitjacket is the time you actually spend in it, so I decided to flip the classic record break. From July 8-22, I will spend a full two weeks living in a straitjacket before making my escape. In honor of the man who inspired me to perform, I wanted to use this opportunity to help those with Parkinsonís escape their disease for good, so I have set a fundraising goal of $25,000 for my efforts.
Spending two weeks in a straitjacket is a serious challenge! What are you most excited and/or nervous about?
Nervous? Nothing! Or at least thatís what Iím telling myself... In truth itís keeping me up at night. Which is ironic because when I am in the straitjacket it will literally keep me up at night. In all honesty with the date creeping up on me I am becoming more and more nervous about the bathroom, eating, my arms, the heat, and falling down face first... But those are only a few. I have slept in my jacket before and it is one of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life. That said, I am most excited about all the money we are going to raise, and about the reactions from the general public when someone on the subway is wearing a straitjacket. Hereís to a lot of strange looks!
We imagine that training for this stunt has been a unique process. Share how youíve done so!
I was supposed to train for this?... Well Iíve told all my friends they donít have to be seen with me, Iíve apologized to my parents, and Iíve been doing a lot of practicing: I have slept in my straitjacket, gone out in public, Iíve found a way to stretch in it and stay safe, and I have filmed a lot of videos. When I go out in the straitjacket the reactions are not at all what I expected. People donít like to acknowledge me. They turn the other direction, they pretend I am dressed in a suit, some people hide laughter. It is amazing how the public treats someone who looks different than them. Thankfully many people have been very supportive. I canít wait to show the world just how stupid Iím willing to look for the right cause. I have also practiced eating, which usually goes one of two ways: very well, or what I like to call ďtwo weeks in my own foodĒ.
We bet we werenít the only ones left a bit awestruck after first hearing your plans. How has your community reacted to and supported your efforts?
When I tell people I plan to spend fourteen days in a straitjacket their first question is usually ďwhy?Ē to which I answer for Parkinsonís disease research, to which they answer ďOh thatís amazingĒ then there is a small pause, followed by ďHow are you going to use the bathroom?Ē To which I answer ďNot easilyĒ. People are very supportive of the whole thing when they really begin to think about the fact that this is not just some joke Iíve come up with. Itís going to take a lot of hard work and relaxation. Itís not going to be comfortable, itís not going to be entirely clean, and itís probably not going to smell very good. I am undertaking something nobody has even attempted before. I am going to spend the longest amount of time ever in a straitjacket, and then at the end I am going to escape in front of an audience. I may not have the strength, and it may be a disaster. Only time will tell!
Youíve developed some great ideas around how fans can follow along and interact with your efforts. Share those with us!
Well on a donation front, if fans donate $100 or more, I will write their name on the jacket permanently; wherever I go, their name follows. Fans can also interact with my efforts by following along with my daily video blogs and suggesting tasks theyíd like to see me accomplish. For example, making an omelette, or changing a tire on a car, or going to the gym, etc. They can also of course share the videos and follow along with my blog and website at www.markcorreia.ca and escapingparkinsons.tumblr.com
Fantastic! Anything else youíd like to share?
I do have to admit, itís amazing how many people have reached out to me to express their support. Even people Iíve never met before. Itís easy to forget that disease is a very real thing, that affects very real people. The number of people who have approached me to tell me that their grandfather has Parkinsonís or their mom just died of Parkinsonís really gave me the inspiration to continue my stunt. There have been many times Iíve wanted to pull out, or turn back, or give up. The thing is I have the freedom to be able to make that choice. At any point I can say ďI donít want to do thisĒ and that would be that. Those suffering from Parkinsonís have no choice. They remain strong in their battle because they have to. And that is something that will never cease to inspire me.†
Best of luck, Mark! We can't wait to follow along with your progress.