A Family’s Commitment to Accelerating a Cure

The Tour de Fox Series is comprised of four cycling events that bring together the Parkinson’s community with a goal of raising over $1 million for Parkinson’s research. Coming off the heels of the successful Tour de Fox Pacific Northwest, the Foundation is busy preparing for upcoming rides in Cleveland (Ohio), Santa Rosa (California) and Greenville (South Carolina). Read why one MJFF staffer is taking part in the Tour and learn more about how you can pedal for a cure.

Parkinson’s disease came into my life 13 years ago when my mom was diagnosed at 57. She was having a slight tremor in her hand and was frustrated that she was having difficulty combing her hair. Our family assumed she had a pinched nerve or something minor. We were floored when she received her diagnosis. She already had beat breast cancer years earlier, and I have to admit it was hard at times not to think how unfair it was. I think my whole family felt that way at some point — except my mom.

She didn’t feel sorry for herself. She didn’t complain. She was wasn’t angry, mean or bitter. She just kept living life with enthusiasm. Drawing on her strength and positivity, my family focused on supporting PD research. In 2011, my sister Kerry climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for Team Fox, raising over $23,000. I began working at the Foundation in 2015, thrilled to join such a passionate group of people committed to finding a cure.

We lost her in December 2016. I often think about her infectious laugh. It was the kind you’d like to bottle up and open on a bad day. When I asked my four-year-old daughter what she will miss most about Nana, she said “Her laugh. That was my favorite.” One of the countless pieces of advice my mother gave us was to smile, and people will smile back. I take comfort knowing that she lives on in the smiles of my daughters.

She was so much more than a person with Parkinson’s disease — she was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, special education teacher and loyal friend. My family is participating in the Tour de Fox Wine Country Ride in California in August. We can’t wait to be surrounded by the inspiring Team Fox community. It is the weekend of what would have been my parents’ 47th wedding anniversary. It seemed like a fitting way to honor her.

She set an example of how to live life, how to take the bad with the good. We will continue to try to follow that example she spent a lifetime setting — to be strong, to stay positive, to smile and to keep living life.

Inspired? Register to participate in the Tour de Fox with rides ranging from 10 to 80 miles, or bike in your own community by registering as a virtual rider.

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