NE Parkinson’s Ride a huge success

To the Editor:

2015 was another very exciting year for our New England Parkinson’s Ride. We have very high hopes that some of the research that is going on will prove to be fruitful in the near future.

There are several projects that have gone to human testing, which means something should happen in the next two years to make a difference for all the people dealing with Parkinson’s disease. The first hope is to find something that will stop the disease in its tracks so that the disease will not progress any further for those living with it. The second hope is to then find a cure for the disease so that no one will ever have to go through this battle again.

When our ride began in 2008, with 35 cyclists raising $27,500, we had no idea how large we would become. Each year has been a new adventure, and 2015 topped them all.

Fortunately, we have now been able to obtain sponsors for our ride. This sponsor money helps in the actual operation of the event, since all the money raised by the cyclists goes directly to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, and 100 percent of that money goes directly to research.

Our daughter, Cindy Theberge, is now our ride director, and we share a small office here in Merrimack from which we run our entire operation. We even have a volunteer summer intern who is helping us getting our mailings out, etc.

Our 2015 ride adventure began on Friday, the night before the ride. Instead of the usual pasta supper for the cyclists who come up the night before, we had an outdoor lobster supper. The Rotary Club of Saco Bay, Maine, volunteered to cook all the lobsters onsite, and we had over 300 people attend the event. It was fantastic, so it will be repeated again this year.

On Saturday morning, the festivities began with live television coverage from the station out of Portland, Maine. By the end of the day, 841 cyclists had started out and come back in, thankfully without anything but scrapes and bruises. They were all fed, received some donated beer and soft drinks, there was a band playing, bouncy houses for the kids … the fun went on late into the evening. Thankfully, the weather that day was gorgeous.

I cannot forget to mention the almost 200 volunteers who work at our 10 rest stops, drive the rescue trucks and motorcycles, take pictures and generally work very hard the day of the ride.

Please check out the short video of the ride at www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5jPSmvw2nE.

At the Michael J. Fox Foundation MVP Awards Dinner in New York City, our event was celebrated as the largest one-day fundraiser event in the country for the second year in a row. When all the cyclists were finished with their fundraising, we had accumulated $546,350. They are truly amazing.

Our son Chris continues to amaze us all. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 10 years ago this month at the age of 41. His determination and stubbornness is beyond understanding. At the age of 51, he still rides the 100-mile route on our ride. He is an example to all those with the disease, and is mentor to so many of the young-onset Parkinson’s participants at our ride.

Donations to our ride may be made by either check or credit card. If you would like to use your credit card, go to www.neparkinsonsride.com, click on Make a Donation (where there is a picture of Michael), and then type in either Edna Woods or Chris Woods and fill out the forms. If you would like to send check, please make it out to the Michael J. Fox Foundation and mail it to the New England Parkinson’s Ride, P.O. Box 1124, Merrimack, NH 03054.

The 2016 ride will be held Saturday, Sept. 10, at Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Bob and Edna Woods
Merrimack