Parkinson's patients pedal to raise awareness
SARASOTA - They are cyclists with one common theme, they have all been diagnosed with the same incurable disease. On 'World Parkinson’s Day' this 'Pedaling for Parkinson’s' group showcased the strength that they’re really made from. Many in this group say their symptoms started small, barely noticeable even. Over time the tremors became more pronounced and hope fleeting.
“You wake up one morning and they tell you that you have Parkinson's, but they don't tell you what all comes with it. Oh, that was a nightmare! I had it for two years and I didn’t tell anyone," said cyclist AJ Shootes. Shootes says coming out of that solidarity and finding a support family in the 'Peddling for Parkinson’s' group has made all the difference.
Pushing through the endurance cycling program weekly helps many of these Parkinson’s patients cope and in some cases even improve or regain muscle strength and mobility.
“My biggest symptoms rather than tremor is that I get very stiff. Riding on the bike twice a week keeps my legs limber; it creates more dopamine which is what we’re missing," said group member Tom Eckhardt. Eckhardt says the inaugural peddling showcase was a successful way to reach out the community, one he hopes will be a continued tradition.
“People think of Parkinson’s as a disability and a debilitating disease, and it can be but you can fight it," said Eckhardt.