“Just thinking about it gives me goosebumps — it’s such an amazing transformation,” says Team Fox member Laura Fiske. “Back in 2010, we wanted to create something with a larger impact than some of the other cycling events in our area,” says Laura, whose father-in-law lived with Parkinson’s and has since passed. She teamed up with Lauren Williams, whose mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2008 and has since passed, and Jackie Williams, whose great-grandfather and grandmother both lived with Parkinson’s. “This was a disease that hit very close to home, they were the real inspiration behind Pedaling 4 Parkinson’s (P4P),” says Laura.
The first year, eight cyclists registered to ride with them in Denver, Colorado. Laura recalls, “It rained like crazy. We had more volunteers than we had riders! I remember thinking, ‘What else could happen? How much harder could it get?’”
“We didn’t know what we didn’t know,” says Laura. They faced other roadblocks along the way, such as permitting issues, which resulted in the cycling portion being canceled, but the post-ride celebration went on with over 150 people, sponsors, food and live music. “Eventually, we got smart and decided to enlarge our committee,” says Laura. “Our success is largely due to our committee and our volunteers. We meet every month to find a better way to do what we do. It’s great to get input from others who are just as passionate as we are about finding a cure.”
Laura emphasizes that the P4P Board of directors “has been instrumental in the success of 2020," including its newest member, Tammy Fross. Tammy got involved in honor of her great-grandmother, grandfather, and father-in-law who were diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and has been an “incredible contribution” says Laura.
Although no one could have predicted what would happen in 2020, one of the decisions the P4P organizers made in January was to add a virtual option and increase their presence on social media. “Our goal was to get bigger and reach out to people across the nation,” says Laura. Even after the pandemic unfolded, they remained committed to that goal.
“Our committee spoke every week in March, and we put together a plan. Even if we raised a little bit, it’s still something,” explains Laura. The organizers pivoted to a virtual ride and altered the format — rather than a one-day event, they created a month-long challenge to reach 25,000 miles collectively, biking indoors or outdoors. “We were understanding that people may not have bikes or be able to join on a specific day or contribute financially,” Laura explains. “That freedom motivated people. We had no idea that it was going to be so successful. We had people posting pictures every week which encouraged others and all of us.”
Not only did they nearly double their 25,000-mile target for the month of June, Pedaling 4 Parkinson’s drew more participants than ever before and raised almost $90,000 — just shy of their pre-pandemic 2020 goal. But “the year’s not over yet!” Laura reminds us. “We are so encouraged and touched that people reacted the way they did,” she says. “And next year, we’re going to encompass everything we learned and try to tune it up!”
In true Team Fox spirit, Laura remains optimistic about the future, “With dedicated volunteers and an active committee like ours, the sky’s the limit!”
Looking for unique ways to alter your event or create a new fundraiser? Check out our blog for 12 Ways to Fundraise while Social Distancing.