Two years ago, Team Fox member Bill Brown was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD), the same disease his father lived with. Inspired by his father’s positivity and commitment to staying active throughout the disease, Bill set out to create the ultimate Team Fox fundraising challenge.
From February to April 2017, Bill plans to complete four Worldloppet cross-country ski races in four different countries, all while fundraising in support of a cure for Parkinson’s. With two events in Germany and France already under his belt, Bill is setting his sights on the finish line. Since his “Ski for Parkinson’s” fundraising began in January, Bill has already surpassed his original goal and raised more than $41,200 — 100 percent of which will go directly to high-impact programs to speed a cure.
Before his next event on April 29, Bill took a break to discuss the motivation behind his involvement and the best advice he would offer to someone with PD looking to follow in his footsteps.
MJFF: Tell us about the inspiration behind this three-month, four-country skiing adventure and why you wanted to get involved with Team Fox.
Bill: Through my work, I’d been involved in fundraisers for other diseases. After my own diagnosis, my son, Jake, and I conducted some research and found that Team Fox would be a great partner to help speed a cure for PD! There are tons of great skiing fundraisers, but none that involve cross-country (Nordic) skiing. I’ve been skiing marathon distance races for 30 years, so I really wanted to make a Nordic event happen. That’s where “Ski for Parkinson’s” first took shape.
MJFF: What’s your long-term vision for “Ski for Parkinson’s”?
Bill: Our larger goal is to make “Ski for Parkinson’s” a community event for anyone with PD to take part and keep an active lifestyle. But since this is my first year, my focus right now is to complete the athletic challenges ahead of me while asking friends to contribute to my fundraising goal. Competing in four Nordic ski marathons, in four different countries, in three months has kept me busy!
MJFF: You’re now halfway through “Skiing for Parkinson’s.” Have you been surprised about anything during the process?
Bill: I’ve been amazed by the response from family, friends, co-workers and people I don’t even know! It can be both uplifting and humbling at the same time, but I’ve been surprised to learn that fundraising has helped me talk more openly about living with Parkinson’s. As those with Parkinson’s may agree, there are times when it can be easy to dwell on the challenges that we have with this disease. I’ve found that since I started this effort, I am instead excited about all the positive developments in PD research and in what we can do to help find a cure. It’s been great to have a part to play in advancing progress!
MJFF: What advice would you share with someone living with Parkinson’s who wants to complete an athletic endurance event?
Bill: Go for it! Exercise is one of the best things you can do to minimize the symptoms of Parkinson’s. If you can’t go as fast as you used to, modify your expectations and adjust how you train. Add more recovery between hard workouts — like daily stretching — and do shorter intensity workouts more often to maximize speed and muscle movement. The reality is that while I’m out skiing, I get passed by many who I used to sail past on the course. But I stop and I think about how fortunate I am to do what I’m doing, and how I’m helping to improve the lives of all of us with Parkinson’s.
MJFF: What else would you would like to share with us about your personal story?
Bill: My father, who also had Parkinson’s, was an excellent role model for me in so many ways and provided me with an example of how to live well with PD. He was always so positive and looked forward to every day he had. He loved interacting with others and giving back to the community. He exercised every day that he could, which he maintained helped him immeasurably in dealing with the effects of his Parkinson’s. I try every day to follow his lead and focus on how fortunate I am to be able to do what I’m doing: contribute towards a better world for those of us living with Parkinson’s.
From walking a 5K to trekking 50 miles, Team Fox is here to help you get to your finish line. Join us for one of our athletic events or create your own Team Fox challenge to help us put an end to Parkinson’s!
Author: Shari-Liane Sangster
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