Climbing for a Cure and the PD Community
More than 150 people living with Parkinson's disease (PD) joined this summer's Tour de Fox, the 103-day, 14,000-mile biking and climbing journey of ultra-athlete and MJFF staffer Sam Fox (no relation to Michael) that raised more than $2.4 million for PD research. One is Marion Fioretti, who along with her daughter Pamela, joined the Tour to challenge themselves and build on the support system they've found through Team Fox.
Pamela and Marion are Team Fox members from Westchester County, New York. They hold an annual fundraiser called Moving for a Cure that celebrates Marion's strength and the optimism of the PD community. To date, they have raised $50,000 in support of critical research efforts. Joining Team Fox has given their family a stronger connection to the PD community and particularly for Pamela, a physical therapist, a way to channel the frustrations she felt as both a daughter and a medical professional after her mom's diagnosis five years ago.
But Tour de Fox presented a different type of undertaking. For Marion, who was diagnosed five years ago, the decision to take part was inspired by her desire to raise awareness about PD and the research funded by Team Fox & MJFF, while also connecting with others in the PD community. So she and Pamela faced the challenge of climbing Vermont's Mt. Mansfield together, conquering an elevation of 4,393 feet — and Marion's fear of heights.
"I was on a natural high for days… weeks," said Marion of finding her summit on the Tour. "I actually feel that in many ways I am experiencing life more fully." After summiting Mt. Mansfield, she also joined the Tour for a spin event in Connecticut and to climb the New Jersey high point.
For Pamela, she found joy in not only supporting her mother on Tour de Fox, but also in sharing this journey with Sam, as they have both been motivated by seeing their mothers navigate PD every day and how their efforts are bringing together patients and families.
"Little does Mom know, but I had tears welling in my eyes under my sunglasses as we sat at the top of that mountain," said Pamela. "I am at a loss for words as to how to accurately describe that moment: To watch her physical abilities improve so significantly was an overwhelming feat, for both of us. She literally was beating Parkinson's disease right at that moment."
So what's next for this fierce mom-daughter duo? In 2016, they hope to expand their Team Fox involvement and to match or surpass their 2015 fundraising total of $20,000. And when a cure is found, Marion promises to get a fox tattoo.
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