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Posts Tagged ‘parkinson’s disease’

Did you know that in the UK, most of the amateur racers in marathons are fundraising for one charity or another? It’s the rule, rather than the exception. Here in the US, running for charity is becoming more and more popular. I have run two marathons as a member of Team in Training, and in fact, my first race ever (The Run to Home Plate 5k) had a charity component (I raised about $300 for the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation).

I’ve been donating to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research for many years, and I get their email newsletter. That’s how I learned about Team Fox. Not just for runners, Team Fox supports citizen fundraisers of all types–people who hold community pancake breakfasts, organize cruise trips, or climb Mount Everest to gather funds that the MJFF can use to finance research. I’m amazed at some of the ideas fellow Team Fox members not only dream up but execute. (I wish I’d thought of this idea first…) Me, I was instantly jazzed the second I heard that Team Fox will get me entry to any of the five World Marathon Majors races, if I promise to raise $5,000.  That, I thought, is what I’m going to do for Dan. After I saw Ryan Hall’s spine-tingling performance online (yes, I watched the whole race on my laptop, cheering like a crazy person) last April, I knew I had to trace that course as well.

I registered with Team Fox the second I heard registration was open for the 2009 Flora London Marathon, convinced that runners would be elbowing each other out of the way for a chance at guaranteed entry. I was so psyched (yes, psyched!) to sign on with Team Fox that I didn’t even feel silly when they told me (in October) that I would be the first on the list for a bib, as soon as they got their entries from the race organizers. As it turns out, I am the only Team Fox runner headed to London, from the whole of the US!  With Team Fox, there aren’t any group runs, or coaches who hold your hand through training and taper, but they do give you this nifty blue plastic portfolio to corral all your fundraising papers, and help you promote your events by mentioning them in email newsletters and on their blog. Also, I’ll get to race in a Team Fox singlet, which I think is cool. Their offices are in the Financial District, and my contact is no-nonsense and very helpful (and also a speedy runner–she finished the London Marathon just several minutes over three hours).

I like the way, instead of holing up away from the public, Michael J. Fox started this foundation to quickly finance research to find a cure. I like the foundation’s mission, and I like that Fox is deeply involved, rather than merely lending his name for publicity.  Full disclosure: he remains one of my favorite actors, I never missed an episode of “Family Ties” or “Spin City” because of him, and Back to the Future still makes me laugh. His memoir, Lucky Man, is a great read, and takes you through his rise to fame but more importantly, through the first years in which he lived with Parkinson’s.

We all know Parkinson’s Disease sucks. If someone dear to you has it, well then you know first hand the practical implications of the facts I’m going to list now. Nearly 5 million folks suffer from its effects. It’s a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder whose symptoms progress, unrelentingly. There’s no cure, and current treatments just minimize the symptoms without halting the disease’s progression. Symptoms I’ve seen include involuntary tremors, depression, speech difficulties, decreased mobility, imbalance and dry eyes.

I leave you with a video of Fox cheering on members of his team at the 2008 New York City Marathon. I remember this part of the race (Mile 24), but don’t remember passing the Team Fox cheering station. But by that time, I was a “little dazed,” though I prefer the word “focused.”

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