There’s something truly remarkable about a group of people so committed to their cause that they still run 13.1 miles after their formal half-marathon race has been cancelled. After fundraising and training for months, the runners participating in the Disney Half Marathon this month had their race cancelled due to weather at the last minute. Many teams, like Team Fox, hosted impromptu make-up half marathons at area hotels. There were people cheering, self-made water stands and aid stations – just like the real race. For Team Fox runners, it was the real race. They were committed to finishing what they started, honoring their supporters, and supporting each other.
Team Fox athletes are a special group of people who are incredibly passionate about finding a cure for Parkinson’s. Their enthusiasm will rope you in and, before you know it, you’re family. That’s exactly what happened to my husband and I.
It was one year ago when we met a fantastic group of Team Fox athletes participating in the Disney Marathon weekend. My husband, who was not a runner at the time, became one of those runners. He successfully completed the 10k – his first race ever. I was so proud of him. As he trained for the race, I longed for the days when running was part of my life- before Parkinson’s. I was a little envious that he could run, but I couldn’t. At least I thought I couldn’t.
This is my husband last year with two of our favorite Team Fox members, Rose and Chris (note the fantastic photo bomb from our friend Jimmy in the background). Rose and Chris are directly responsible for my husband’s participation in his first 10k, and they are the brain trust behind Pints for Parkinson’s.
That same weekend a year ago I met a man who is about my age and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in his late twenties – a.k.a. Jimmy of the aforementioned photobomb fame. Jimmy had his arm in a sling and explained that he had fallen during a training run and separated his shoulder. I assumed he was not going to be running any race that weekend. As it turns out, that was the furthest from the truth. Jimmy was actually running in EVERY single race that weekend. It was his third year of doing the Dopey Challenge – Day 1: 5k; Day 2: 10k; Day 3: half marathon; Day 4: marathon. He wasn’t about to let a separated shoulder stop him.
Talk about some serious inspiration! As I witnessed him and several others with Parkinson’s complete these races, I thought why not me too? I initially committed to a fellow Parkie that I would walk/run the 5k race with her. Then, after cheering on the marathoners, I changed my commitment to the 10k. I felt confident that having one year to prepare would be sufficient.
That year ended last week. Over the last year I intermittently trained for the race. I kept procrastinating. It was too hot. I was too tired. I could go on with the excuses, but I will spare you the drama. Needless to say, I did not feel prepared to run a 10k, but I had made a commitment and so many people were supporting me emotionally and financially (through their generous Team Fox donations). I did not want to let them down.
Last Friday I woke up at 1:30 a.m. to prepare for the 5:30 a.m. race. I had to give my body time to wake up, my meds to be properly timed, and my mind to prepare. Two hours later I was on the Disney bus being transported to the start line. Smiling on the outside, but inside wondering if I could really do this. My amazing husband had a plan for us to succeed – a run/walk regimen. He is my rock and my strength. He knows when I’m capable of pushing my limits and when it’s time to take a moment of rest.
Shortly after we got to the start line area, we met up with the other Team Fox runners. They are seasoned runners and they were SUPER excited to be there. Their enthusiasm was contagious. We laughed, goofed around, took pictures as we waited for the race to begin. Most of these people I had met over the last year, either in person or on social media. We all know each other, but bonded even more over the weekend. We all share a common goal – to outrun Parkinson’s.
Out of the group running that day, three of us have Parkinson’s. We took a Parkie selfie.
These people are not just other Team Fox runners, they are our Team Fox family. I love my Team Fox family. We are not only committed to a cause, we are committed to each other. We lift each other up. We will always be there for one another. A Team Fox representative said it so well at the pre-race dinner – once you’re a member of the Team Fox family, you really are family.
This year there were 90 Team Fox runners/walkers (some pictured below) who participated in races ranging from the 5k to the Dopey Challenge. Eight members of the group have Parkinson’s.
I’m pleased to report that we finished the 10k without injury. I was so excited that I immediately committed to the half marathon for 2018. I even got a little “dopey” and considered doing the Dopey Challenge. I think I’ll stick with the half marathon unless my Team Fox family convinces me otherwise.
Thank you so much for allowing me to share this experience with you. I am still raising funds in connection with the race, so if you would like to make a donation to Team Fox through my fundraising page, please click here. Every cent of every dollar donated goes directly to Parkinson’s research.