Editor's Note: For more Foundation news, research updates and tips on living well with Parkinson's, read the Fall/Winter 2017 edition of The Fox Focus, our biannual newsletter.
When Matt Ross was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson's disease (PD), he immediately wanted to help educate others about the disease and start fundraising for a cure. He soon came across the perfect opportunity in his hometown: Team Fox's Los Angeles Fox Trot 5K.
He signed up for the March 2017 run/walk and shared his diagnosis with friends and family. The support was overwhelming: He raised $23,500, making him the event's top fundraiser. "It was a tangible way for people to show support," he said, "and I've been very clear that it's just the start!"
Matt was one of 21 people with Parkinson's who crossed the finish line in the event -- and one of more than 40 with PD nationwide who are taking part in this year's signature Fox Trot series, which includes run/walks in New York, Boston and California's Bay Area. Together, they (along with teams they've led) have raised $101,900... and counting.
They are in great company. In recent years, the PD community has led a groundswell of support and participation for Team Fox athletic events in their communities. Their local efforts are adding up as they forge strong connections and raise significant funds for the Foundation's work accelerating a cure.
Nowhere is this more apparent than Tour de Fox, a series of four cycling events born out of 2015's cross-country biking and climbing adventure uniting the PD community. In 2017, nearly 100 riders with PD took on the rides ranging from 10 to 75 miles, bringing in more than $176,000 to help speed research.
One was Mike Rowland of Alabama (pictured here with his family), who was diagnosed with Parkinson's four years ago. He and his family had been looking for a way to get involved with the Foundation. After learning about the newest stop on the Tour -- the Blue Ridge ride in South Carolina -- they started organizing a team.
"At the time, I didn't own a bike and hadn't ridden one in years," Mike admits. "But if my dad, who turns 85 this year, was going to ride 40 miles, that was all the inspiration I needed."
Heading into the weekend of the ride, their team of 23 were on track to raise more than $60,000 -- and friends and family from New York to Texas had signed up to cheer or ride alongside Mike.
People with PD are critical to Team Fox athletics, whether taking on their first 3-mile walk or an endurance ride. Together, they and their families and friends are furthering Parkinson's research, while demonstrating the power of the PD community.
Take on a walking, cycling or other physical challenge while supporting Parkinson's research: Find your event at teamfox.org/athletics.
Laura Amann is an award-winning freelance writer who contributes personal stories about living with Parkinson's to the MJFF blog