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Bret Parker Reflects on Over 10 Years with Team Fox and His “Do Epic Stuff” Motto

Bret Parker running the NYC marathon

When I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD) in 2007 at the age of 38, it was like a punch in the gut.  A married parent of two young boys, I spent the first five years telling very few people and doing very little about it, until I decided to tell everyone at once, and started to help find a cure.  I'm not a scientist, but I figured I could raise awareness and funds for research — that's when I began my love affair with Team Fox. People with PD and their friends and family were all doing something positive in the face of a debilitating illness, fostering hope and providing strength for one another. They were tackling athletic challenges, holding bake sales and coordinating all kinds of events. The feeling of community was infectious.  

Each year I’d pick one activity — at first, some short runs to prove to myself and others that I wasn't going to let PD keep me down. Then I ran some marathons, climbed a mountain, sky dived and completed a triathlon. Each challenge either helped me get in shape or checked off one of my bucket list items (hello skydiving!).   

In 2018, I decided to tackle the World Marathon Challenge — seven marathons, on seven continents, over seven straight days (a.k.a. the 777). It was during the Chicago Marathon, just a little training run to prepare me for the 777, that I saw a woman standing on a raised median on the course wearing a shirt that said in huge letters: "Do Epic Shit." That phrase pretty much summed up what I had been doing all these past years and it continues to guide me now. I know my Parkinson's will continue to progress, but even as my physical abilities diminish, I will keep doing things that feel epic, challenge me, get me in shape and raise funds for a cure. If it’s not clear by now, “epic” is a moving target for me. Some days, epic is just getting out of bed. This September, “epic” will be running 48 miles in 48 hours. 

You read that right. The next event in my “Do Epic Shit” series is completing a 4x4x48 challenge during the weekend of September 22. Depending on ability level, participants either walk or run four miles every four hours for 48 hours, totaling 48 miles. I’ve been training with a group of friends who will do this in person with me in Sag Harbor, New York. Others will join virtually — running and walking from wherever they are.   

If you want to join, it's not too late! Join Team Do Epic Stuff, grab your friends and family and run or walk a single four-mile stretch (or the full 48 miles!) in your neighborhood to raise awareness and funds for PD. Not a runner or walker? You can still be involved by sponsoring a leg. I will be posting on Instagram the entire weekend, starting at 10 a.m. on September 22 and ending around noon on September 24.  Team Fox will also be sharing on social media — follow along here.

With the love and support of family and friends, I’ve raised more than $900,000 for Team Fox over the past 11 years. I hope that this event will put me past the $1 million mark. Either way, it’s going to be epic! 

  • Bret completing the 777 challenge
  • Bret smiling at the end of the 777
  • bret running with a supporter
  • Bret running the marathon
  • Bret getting off the bus for the marathon
  • Bret running the marathon
  • bret biking

Bret Parker is Co-Chair of the Patient Council of The Michael J. Fox Foundation. Bret was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2007 at age 38 but kept it relatively secret until he published a blog on the Forbes website in 2012. Read more about Bret here.  

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