Geoffrey and I launched Parker’s Climb, our year long fundraising journey to raise awareness for Parkinson’s disease on July 4, 2010 in our home state of Florida. Near the same time on June 27th, 2010 another Parkinson’s disease patient started his journey to raise awareness and funding for the cure. Steve Quam, diagnosed two years ago with PD began a solo cross country cycling trip, traveling from from Washington’s Pacific coast to Edisto Beach, South Carolina on the Atlantic coast.
Steve Quam at the age of 64, has spent the last four months riding alone across America’s back roads. As I have written previously, there is medical research that shows that bicycling can improve the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Steve is certainly putting that philosophy to the test!! I witness the positive results of cycling when Geoffrey and I ride on the weekends, but riding for four months – I cannot even imagine the stamina that this would require!
Steve is riding to raise money for the Davis Phinney Foundation. Davis Phinney was the first American to win a Tour de France road stage in 1984, and today he still holds records for being one of the most celebrated winners in the sport of cycling. You may remember that this is another favorite annual event for Geoffrey and I. We sit glued to the television every night to watch the TDF, and we are just in awe of the power of the human spirit living in these athletes that allows them to compete in this 21 day, 3,491 kilometer race.
In 2000, at the age of 40, Davis Phinney was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease, and he started the Colorado based foundation to benefit Parkinson’s disease in 2004. Phinney’s vision for the foundation is one of improving the lives of PD patients, with a focus on funding research related to exercise. Can I just tell you how much Geoffrey Parker and Davis Phinney have in common in regards to their belief that exercise benefits those living with PD!
In Denver, Quam met and shared dinner with his long time role model Davis Phinney, (who held that position even before Steve was diagnosed), and I have to believe that the two now see each other not only as friends, but as mutual role models.
Steve’s cross country ride will total 4,250 miles. His average day has consisted of logging 20 to 60 miles, with the longest single days ride being 79 miles. This man is determined and driven with the same super-human spirit much like that of a Tour de France athlete, and in reality my guess is he is even more determined. During this trip Steve has stayed in over 100 different locations and he carries a 100 pound trailer on back of his bicycle to haul his gear. He has ridden in altitudes of 6,000 to 7,000 feet and I cannot even imagine how he has withstood the heat of the summer. He has not had a crew caring for his needs, he has done this ride alone – just him and the road in front of him.
On October 28th, 2010 Steve Quam will reach his destination, he will put his bicycle wheel into the Atlantic Ocean in South Carolina, a whole country away from where he started with his bicycle wheel dipped into the Pacific Ocean in Washington four months ago.
I know that this experience will stay with Steve for a lifetime. I cannot even imagine the number of people who now know more about Parkinson’s disease because of his journey. He cannot even begin to know the number of people with Parkinson’s disease or any other disabling illness that he has inspired because of his desire to reach this goal. His tenacity to never stop moving has moved me beyond words! Or I guess I should say that it has moved me with many words!
I hope I get to meet you one day Steve Quam. It is people like you who help me to stay up late at night writing, and it is that extra inspiration I find in your story that will help me crawl out of my comfortable bed at 6:00 am in the morning to be at the gym in training for my journey in July of 2011.
May God Bless You! I know you have many stories to tell from the road. I look forward to hearing more.
This Parker’s Climb post is dedicated to you Steve Quam – For the Cure!
Pamela & Geoffrey