Some people look at a bike trail and see blacktop. Liz Ogren sees freedom.
“I started bike riding on the handlebars of my brother’s bike when I was about three,” Ogren says. When she learned to ride her own bike, the world opened up for young Liz. The feeling has never left her. “I will bike when it’s 100 degrees; I will bike when it’s 30 degrees.”
But six years ago, during a bike trip to Utah, Ogren’s life spun 180 degrees.
She’d stopped with her friends to climb some rocks. Sprawled between two rock walls, she froze in place. “I couldn’t do what I set my mind to, I couldn’t move,” she recalls.
It was the first time Ogren admitted to herself something was wrong. “I couldn’t move any limbs, I couldn’t move my arms, I couldn’t move my legs, I was just stuck.”
Ogren’s riding partners helped her down. Maybe those tremors in her hands weren’t just a “quirk,” as she’d first convinced herself. “I didn’t think it was any big deal,” she said looking back. A doctor soon confirmed it was.
“When they said Parkinson’s I was like, Why would it be Parkinson’s, I’m so young?”
Ogren was 44 years old and an elementary school teacher. She cried herself to sleep the night of her diagnosis and then spent plenty of time on the couch in the days that followed, “thinking, brooding, grieving, wondering.”
But bound by a terrible diagnosis, Ogren again found freedom with an old friend: her bicycle.
“For a person with Parkinson’s walking can be difficult, but I get on a bike and it is like I don’t have Parkinson’s,” said Ogren during a recent ride on a specialty trike.
Last Saturday Ogren hosted Pedal, Roll and Stroll for Parkinson’s, the event she founded three years ago to help other Parkinson’s patients realize the benefits of exercise, especially on bikes.
“I wanted to pay forward,” she says, “what my family and friends had done for me by encouraging me to live my life well, in spite of the Parkinson’s.”
» Read the full story on Kare 11 News.
» Davis Phinney Foundation Local Hero Award