Recipient

Francis D.

Pennsylvania

My Dad- my favorite work-out partner

My dad is my best running buddy- we have done countless races together, and have logged more miles training than I can count. He tried to get me to run with him when he was in peak marathon shape, but I was a 10-12 year-old kid and he got tired of listening to me complain that I was tired, that It was too far, etc. In my late 20’s I joined him for our first race together- The Army Ten Miler in Washington DC. I had never run more than 5 miles before, and he was the best coach/cheerleader.
More recently, he kept me on my feet for the last 4 hours of a 24 hour race- in 2018- running the last 6 miles with me. It was only after the fact I learned he was pacing me with multiple broken toes from a fall down his basement stairs. He promised he would be there and refused to miss it.
The picture I submitted is from the last race we did together: The Great Race 10k in Pittsburgh, 2018. Since that time some chronic neck and back issues have largely prevented him from running. He was running 30-50 miles a week for most of his adult life, even in his early 70’s, and abruptly became unable to do so, even for short distances. His emotional health has suffered as a result- running was his outlet for all things stressful.
As he became more depressed, he also developed some new neurological symptoms, and was diagnosed in December 2019 with Parkinson’s Disease. Looking back, he had had symptoms for some time, but they clearly worsened/accelerated with his lack of physical activity. His lack of balance and tremor has made him afraid to do many of the things he used to do while in public.
We know that regular exercise, especially cycling, can help slow the progression of Parkinson’s symptoms. Having the ability to exercise in the privacy of his home, giving him some control over the trajectory of his illness, and getting all of the other benefits of regular exercise- physical and emotional- would be a wonderful gift to him, and to my mom as well, who is his caregiver. Thank you!

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