Moments Of Victory®
Through the Local Hero Award and Moments of Victory® stories, the Davis Phinney Foundation recognizes those with Parkinson’s who are inspirations to others in their communities. These individuals are proof positive that people with Parkinson’s can live rich, full lives – opening up new opportunities and experiencing joys they had never imagined possible before their diagnosis. Read the original story here.
Always an avid cyclist and athlete, Liz’s 2007 diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease was discouraging. “I thought, ‘I have a movement disorder, so I might as well stop moving now,’” Liz remembers. “But I’ve always been a determined person and I don’t like being told what to do.” The longtime elementary school teacher, wife and mother of two decided early on that she was not going to let Parkinson’s tell her what to do. With the encouragement of her brother and sister-in-law, Liz worked to develop an exercise routine that she could maintain. “My brother would call and ask if I wanted to go to the gym and I would say ‘No, I’m tired. Maybe later.’ Ten minutes later he would be at my door asking, ‘Is it later now?’”
Now Liz makes it a priority to get out and move every day. She has developed a strong community of friends with Parkinson’s disease through support groups and exercise classes who work out together, motivating each other. But her determination to support her local Parkinson’s community didn’t stop there. Inspired by the exercise classes available in the area, Liz made it her personal mission to encourage people living with Parkinson’s to start cycling. “I saw Jay Alberts’ research on cycling and Parkinson’s, and you see people out biking for all of these other causes. I thought, ‘Why aren’t people with Parkinson’s riding bikes to build awareness?’”
In 2011, Liz founded Pedal and Roll for Parkinson’s, a non-profit organization designed to bring the Parkinson’s community together through cycling. Since the first bicycle/tricycle/community event in 2011 the organization has joined forces with the local recreation center in Minnetonka, Minnesota to create a bicycle/tricycle lending library, a unique resource for those without a bicycle or the means to buy one to “check out” a bike for free. Purchased by Pedal and Roll and maintained by Liz, family and friends, the available bikes include recumbent tandem bicycles and tricycles specifically designed so people with movement disorders ride with ease. “I want to dangle the carrot, be encouraging positive” Liz says. “I want people to get outside and get moving. Even if you can only take ten steps, maybe tomorrow you can do more.”
In addition to encouraging movement and a pro-active approach to managing Parkinson’s symptoms, Pedal and Roll provides an opportunity to connect with others in the area who are also living with the disease. Bringing treats like chocolate and lemonade to the biking events, Liz’s crew encourages socializing as well as exercise, creating an important space for community and camaraderie.
“Everyone needs encouragement, particularly when dealing with a chronic illness like Parkinson’s. My family encouraged me to exercise and followed through by exercising with me. Their support changed my life and my attitude about living with Parkinson’s. Pedal and Roll is a continuation of our efforts to encourage others to enjoy exercise and movement as therapy.”