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A Mother's Love for Her Son Inspires New England Parkinson's Ride

Meet Team Fox member Edna Woods, who was featured in the fall 2011 issue of our newsletter, Accelerating the Cure. She started the annual New England Parkinson's Ride for her son Chris, an avid cyclist who was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2006. Read the profile below or click here to check out the entire issue.


Edna Woods is, in a word, a matriarch. A mother of seven, grandmother of 18 and great grandmother of six from Merrimack, New Hampshire, Edna has always put her family first. So when her youngest son, Chris, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in 2006 at the age of 41, she knew she had to do something. Enlisting Chris’ love of cycling in the fight against Parkinson’s, in 2008 Edna joined Team Fox and created the New England Parkinson’s Ride in Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

Chris is an avid cyclist who had participated in a 150-mile diabetes bike ride and a 200-mile MS ride. After his diagnosis, he took part in a 100-mile Parkinson’s ride in Boston, which unfortunately folded a year later. When a search for another PD ride yielded no results, Chris and Edna decided to start their own. And the New England Parkinson’s Ride was born.

The ride starts and ends in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, and caters to riders of all levels. Riders are asked to raise $100 to participate and can choose from the 10-mile, 30-mile, 50-mile or 100-mile routes.

Edna has watched the ride grow over the years. She’s astounded by the outpouring of support — which has made her event one of Team Fox’s most successful and most popular annual fundraisers. “The first year, we had 35 riders and raised $27,000 for Team Fox,” said Edna. “The next year, we had 105 riders and raised $56,000. Last year, we had 205 riders and raised $106,000. This year will be our fourth. We are expecting 300 riders and hope to raise $120,000.”

Many participants have Parkinson’s, including Chris, who still opts for the 100-mile loop. People travel from as far as California, others from upstate New York, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. According to Edna, “they come from all over because everyone seems to know someone with Parkinson’s.”

In addition to the riders, more than 40 volunteers staff the rest stops and registration and set up each of the four routes. A raffle in July raises money to cover most of the ride’s expenses; local supermarkets donate food, water and Gatorade for the day of the ride; and a nearby hotel offers discounted rates for all bikers. “Everybody works together. It never ceases to amaze me,” she said.

Planning and managing the ride is a full-time job, but one that Edna loves. “I originally got into this for Chris, but when you get to know other people with Parkinson’s and those who love them, it’s just so much more,” she explained. “It’s become my passion. And I’m not doing this for me. It’s about finding a cure — now.”

This year’s ride is on September 10, 2011. For more information, visit


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