Monday, June 4, 2012

49 Weeks to 50 Miles at 50 Years

So I’ve begun. I’ll turn 50 years old in August, and next May 11--in 49 more weeks--I’ll celebrate by running the Ice Age Trail 50 mile race in Wisconsin. In the fifty weeks leading to that race, I’ll have run 2000 miles or so in training. I have other races planned, and places I want to go for runs, and most importantly, I know I’ll pass many of those miles with my closest friends. I’ll write about all of those things.

Betty and EO, April 16, 2011
If you’ve read this blog before, you know I’m raising money to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease to hour my father, EO. I’ve pledged to raise $10,000 for Team Fox, which benefits the Michael J. Fox Foundation in its efforts to find that cure. Follow this link to my personal donation page with Team Fox, and help me get to my goal. The Michael J. Fox Foundation has funded more than $289 million in Parkinson’s research, the largest private funder in this field. Their strategic investments will no doubt help find a cure within my lifetime. 

I don’t expect the same for my dad. EO was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease five years ago, though he has had symptoms for more like ten years. He and my mother deal with the loss of mobility associated with it, and with the other related health issues. For now, there is no cure for Parkinson’s; you can only treat the symptoms. Some of the “symptoms,” like the tics that many Parkinson’s patients have, are actually side effects of the drugs. 

I’m hoping to have a lot of folks in Wisconsin for my race, though I kind of doubt my dad will make it. Parkinson’s is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder, affecting pace and agility. EO doesn’t shake, but he uses a walker. He has a hard time traveling, which hurts because he loves to travel. But he has a hard time even walking down the block, made worse because, as my mother says in all seriousness, he can’t walk and talk at the same time. 
Now my dad can talk, and his encyclopedic memory leaves him with more stories than you can shake a stick at, as he might say. So he’ll stop and tell his story. We’ve heard them all before, but lately I’ve paid special attention to them. I can see him looking through them all as he tries to find the details he wants, his mind sharp, but his voicing of the stories slowed by the disease. Coordinating all of the things he needs to do just to walk down the hall has become complicated, and he tires quickly.

EO can dance, too. He and my mother Betty have been dancing regularly for several years. They've gotten pretty good, and get a lot of attention wherever they dance. Betty told me they get special acclaim now when EO gets his walker to get off the dance floor. 
Mount Pisgah, North Carolina
 April 28, 2012
I also have a personal reason for wanting to raise money: the disease runs in my family, and even though there is no apparent inherited risk, it does seem to affect families. My dad says his father had Parkinson’s, and we suspect that my great-grandfather did, too. My dad’s sister had a form of Parkinson’s. I think about it often, especially as I exercise my mobility for hours on end.  
I hope you’ll follow my quest. I’ll post stories of my training here, and also post about turning fifty, and about my dad and mom’s journeys, and if I’m lucky, there will be guest posts by my family. 
I want this fifty weeks to fifty miles at fifty years to make more a difference in the larger world. I want put my selfish running habit to good use. I’m asking you to donate to the Michael J. Fox Foundation by following this link to my donation page. All of the $10,000 I raise will go to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, and all donations are tax-deductible. 

You can also help by becoming a follower of my blog because I’ll be asking for some corporate support from the companies whose gear I use.

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