Team Fox member Stephanie Demos created the 100 5Ks in 100 days challenge in honor of her mother living with PD.
Team Fox member Stephanie Demos celebrates running 100 5Ks in 100 days in honor of her mother living with PD.
Most 30th birthdays involve cake and parties. But Stephanie Demos had something else in mind: “I wanted to do something bigger.”
About six years ago, Stephanie’s mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD), and she knew she wanted to raise awareness and funds to help speed a cure. While she has completed triathlons and half marathons in the past, “I wanted to do something of my own; something outside the box,” she says.
Initially, Stephanie planned to raise $500 by running 5K every day for 30 days leading up to her 30th birthday on March 20. “But I wanted to really force myself out of my comfort zone,” she says. So, she raised the stakes: For every additional $7 she raised, she pledged to run 5K every day up to 100 days, with a new goal of $1,000.
She joined Team Fox in January and created a fundraising page, personalizing it with a video message to her friends and family. “Within the first hour of sharing, I was over my goal,” she recalls. “I was so blown away by how much I raised before I even started running!” And so, on February 20, Stephanie set out to complete 100 5Ks in 100 days.
For the first few weeks, she ran on a treadmill at the gym. But when the gym closed in March due to COVID-19, she had to brave the unpredictable elements of a Midwestern spring in her neighborhood outside of Chicago. She says, “What motivated me to keep going was having a reason to run, and my reason was my mom.”
In addition, her friends, family, coworkers, and even people she hasn’t met, were following her journey online. “Being able to share it on platforms like Instagram and Facebook connected me with so many people,” she says. “There was a sense of accountability because people were watching my story and joining me on my 100-day journey,” she says.
On May 29, Stephanie completed her 100th 5K and celebrated the milestone with balloons that read “100 DAYS.” Not only did she accomplish the incredible athletic challenge, she blew her fundraising goal out of the water. To date, she’s raised over $9,000 for Team Fox. “My goal was to raise money and awareness for Parkinson’s, but I also hope I have inspired others to set their goals high and get out of their comfort zones,” she says.
And that’s exactly what she’s done. “The day before my 100-day journey ended, a couple from Indianapolis reached out. They had seen my story through a Team Fox post on social media and they offered to pick up where I left off,” she says. Now, Laura and Kyle Mckee are taking on the next 100 days in honor of Laura’s father who lives with PD. They’ve joined Steph’s team to continue raising funds and awareness through the 5K-a-day challenge.
Stephanie says her mother is extremely proud and grateful for what she’s done for her, and for everyone living with Parkinson’s. At the same time, Stephanie says, “I’ve gained so much personally from this experience. It has connected me with so many people and made me realize that I was doing something much bigger than me.”