Cherryl Choi is a director of supply chain management and a Team Fox member since 2012. She lives in Bolingbrook, Illinois with her husband Jimmy and her two children. Since day one with Team Fox, Cherryl has been an advocate and cheerleader for her husband, and everyone who lives with Parkinson’s.
The text below is from Cherryl’s keynote speech during the 2018 Team Fox MVP Awards. The Foundation is publishing it in honor of Women’s History Month, and the countless women who are touched by Parkinson’s and working tirelessly to eradicate it.
When Jimmy finally told me he had Parkinson’s, it didn’t seem real. I was in disbelief and shock and then just fearful of the future and unknown. How could it be? We had just gotten married and started building a home together. In that shock, I remember seeing one of those décor signs you put up in the house that says: Live, Love, Laugh. And I thought… how? When every day Parkinson’s invaded our lives. I watched my very lively, good natured, and active husband become angry, depressed, and now walk with a cane. I felt hopeless as the disease progressed.
And I watched helplessly from the sideline as Jimmy fell down a flight of stairs with my then infant son, Mason. I had to ask myself…What was my role in this? This isn’t something I could fight for him.
That fall jolted Jimmy into action. Sometimes, I think, too much with all that he’s taken on since! As you know, he started up running small distances and quickly built up to marathons and several other endurance challenges.
When he joined Team Fox in 2012, it suddenly became clear to me what my role was in this fight against Parkinson’s. I didn’t have to stand idly by on the sideline and be paralyzed with fear. I too can take action and fight. And I decided I was going to be his PACER.
Not in running, because I really can’t keep up with him, but a PACER for him in this life with Parkinson’s. It’s an acronym that serves as a daily reminder for me where:
· P – is a PARTNER; in that he and I together would determine the best way to manage his disease with exercise, medication, and the right support team.
· A – as an ADVOCATE for him by hosting fundraising events like Shake It Off 5K/Chicago Fox Trot to educate and spread awareness for Parkinson’s and push for more research
· C – as a CHEERLEADER cheering him across finish lines for 104 half marathons, 16 marathons, and hopefully, hitting the buzzer on American Ninja Warrior or breaking the world record for burpees
· E – to EMPOWER him to continue the fight and push his limits to be better every day in this fight against Parkinson’s
And because tomorrow is another day,
· R – Repeat this mantra and be by his side to battle Parkinson’s.
So for this TEAM FOX family, thank you for shedding light on how best I can be a PACER to my husband and for those living with Parkinson’s.
For those days, where sometimes it’s just overwhelming, I know that I can reach out to this family to support us. Whether it’s lending hands at our events, sharing stories when we have moments together, or through social media from afar, it is a boost in spirit to keep on.
And now when I see those signs of “Live, love, laugh” for the home, I now know that it’s possible. Even with Parkinson’s.
Thank you, ALL OF YOU, our Team Fox Family.