Today, ultra-athlete and Michael J. Fox Foundation staffer Sam Fox (no relation to Michael J. Fox) kicks off Tour de Fox (www.tourdefox.org). With a name inspired by the legendary 2500-kilometer bike race across France that annually challenges the grit and endurance of the world’s greatest cyclists, Tour de Fox is a 14,000-mile biking and hiking adventure across the contiguous United States into British Columbia, Canada.
Sam, 27, will test his physical limits, biking more than 5,000 miles en route to climbing the highest peak in each state between now and September 12, when the Tour will have its finale in Vancouver. The goal is to meet Parkinson’s patients and families and raise $1 million for Parkinson’s disease research. Thanks to the generous underwriting support of anonymous donors, 100 percent of donations to Tour de Fox will go directly to The Michael J. Fox Foundation’s cutting-edge research programs.
“Sam’s tenacity is incredible,” says Michael J. Fox, who appeared with Sam this morning on NBC’s “TODAY” Show to kick off the Tour. “Whether he’s running deserts, biking up mountains or climbing glaciers, he gives it 100 percent for his mom and the millions of others living with Parkinson’s disease.”
#findyoursummit with an athletic, celebration or virtual Tour event
With 52 official Tour de Fox excursions, the Tour will visit some of the most scenic parts of the United States including the Adirondacks on the East Coast (June 8) and, in the West, Yellowstone National Park (July 21–22), the Rockies (August 1–2) and Napa wine country (August 29). Sam is hoping to have lots of company along the route.
- Most rides and climbs invite members of the public and cater to all experience levels (there is a $25 fundraising minimum to take part).
- Experienced athletes can apply to join Sam on one of eight “TDFX” extreme events including lengthy hikes, mountainous bike rides and technical climbs with limited spots and greater fundraising requirements.
- Non-athletic celebration events taking place at various points along the route are another way to connect with Sam and the Tour.
- Outside the Tour route, community members can plan a “Virtual Tour de Fox” event to bring out friends and community for a local hike or bike ride to raise funds.
- Or simply make a donation in support of Sam’s efforts.
Find a full Tour schedule, registration forms and fundraising tools at www.tourdefox.org.
“I may be 27, but my knees are 45”: Why Sam keeps pushing through the pain
Sam crowd-sourced the idea for Tour de Fox during a 2013 appearance at SXSW in Austin, Texas. But it is not his first ultra-athletic feat to speed a Parkinson’s cure. Motivated by his mother, Lucy’s, diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease in 2000, Sam, a Yale University alum, has turned his athletic gifts and passion for the outdoors into a fundraising powerhouse.
In 2011, he ran the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail (featured in the recent motion picture Wild) in 60 days (running the length of two marathons a day on average), raising $300,000 for The Michael J. Fox Foundation. Sam then joined the Foundation’s staff as Outreach and Engagement Officer, where he serves as inspiration and guide for other extreme fundraisers. In 2012, he raised another $100,000 for the Foundation by running from New York City to the tip of Long Island (a distance of 100 miles) in 24 hours on one of the hottest days that summer.
Sam is philosophical about his passion to push himself to the point of pain for a Parkinson’s cure. “I may be 27, but my knees are 45,” Sam says. “But any discomfort I experience connects me to my mom and reminds me of the challenges she faces down every day. I will keep doing this as long as I can.”
Official sponsors of the Tour de Fox include Volkswagen and Gatorade.