The New England Parkinson’s Ride started off with a humble but inspired beginning: three dozen bicyclists riding to raise money to fund a cure for Parkinson’s Disease. While other types of charity bike rides existed for various causes throughout the country at the time, the Woods family discovered there wasn’t one for Parkinson’s Disease throughout the entire country.
Chris Woods, an avid cyclist, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 41, and the Woods family rallied around him. Under the leadership of his mother, Edna Woods, Executive Director of New England Parkinson’s Ride, the annual event has grown from its humble beginnings to include over 1000 cyclists from 23 states and 3 provinces of Canada, as well as more than 250 volunteers. The ride has raised over 3.3 million dollars over the past 11 years, growing into the biggest independent single-day fundraiser for Team Fox of the Michael J. Fox foundation in the entire country.
The ride showcases not only people uniting for a common cause, but also demonstrates the persistence of the human spirit in the face of adversity. “We had sixty-one people with Parkinson’s who did the ride this year,” said Edna Woods.
The riders range from professional cyclists to amateurs to families—the ride is an event for all ages. For instance, the Portland Wheelers, a group of cyclists from Maine, even give some people suffering from Parkinson’s Disease tandem rides.
“Riders of all ages and abilities are welcome,” and can sign up to ride in one of four routes for all ages and abilities, says the organization’s website. The courses go around Old Orchard Beach, Maine at various distances: 10 miles, 30 miles, 50 miles, and 100 miles. The event also boasts entertainment, concessions, vendors, and even showers.
“The thing to know is that anyone can Parkinson’s. It’s not just for old people,” said Cindy Woods Theberge, Director of New England Parkinson’s Ride.
It’s for this reason that there is always a need to help support this wonderful cause. Please visit: www.neparkinsonsride.com.