One Giant Leap for Parkinson's Research -- I did it!!!

Six years ago, at the age of 38 and after only 15 minutes with a neurologist, I heard the four most shocking words that I never could have imagined: "you have Parkinson's Disease." Since that day, more than anything, I wanted to live a "normal" life, help find a cure and prove to myself (and everyone else) that PD would not define me.

For some with Parkinson's, it is truly devastating.  Over five million people worldwide are living with this chronic, degenerative neurological disorder.  Symptoms typically progress from mild tremors to complete physical incapacitation and there is no known cure.  Even though I'm lucky to be doing relatively well so far (and I'm not complaining), I feel my symptoms every day and they will get worse over time unless we find better treatments.  The Michael J. Fox Foundation, the largest private funder of Parkinson's Research, has invested more than $313 million in research toward accelerating a cure for Parkinson's disease and improved therapies for people like me who are living with the condition today.

To raise at least $50,000 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation and simultaneously prove to myself that nothing will hold me back from living my life, I decided to tackle a huge item on my "bucket list" -- this spring, I'll skydive over Long Island.  For years, a "Skydive Long Island" sign on the Long Island Expressway has been calling me.  Actually, daring me.  I've been talking about doing it for over 10 years (even before I was diagnosed), but  I never had the courage.  The idea of jumping out of a plane terrifies me (anxiety makes my symptoms act up so this may not be the best plan).  But the thought of unfulfilled dreams and deep regrets terrifies me even more.  And not doing everything I can to help raise money to find a cure is just a waste because we can all make a difference.

Parkinson's Disease will never hold me back and, as corny as it sounds, it's actually going to get me to literally and figuratively soar to new heights.  It will be one big leap for me (more like a shove from an instructor since I have no doubt I'll completely freeze like a deer in headlights). And just to make sure I know I'm not alone, my wife, Katharine, decided to tackle a goal of her own.  No, she won't be joining me on the dive.  As she said, "I don't want to jump out of a plane and you can't make me."  Instead, she'll be running the Hamptons Marathon on Long Island this fall.  She's been looking for a way to support me and this is a doozy -- she's never run farther than 6 miles.

I'll be taking one big step out of a plane.  Katharine will be taking 26 miles of steps.  I hope you'll think about joining us in raising money for a cure.  If not in the sky or on the road, then at least consider supporting us in spirit. 

Some Highlights from My Activity in 2012

My big disclosure last year:  article in Forbes

The run that raised over $110,000:

The other run that raised awareness: