Cyclist crossing country for Parkinson's
Many people have been through a situation where everything changes after a family member is diagnosed with a disease.
From cancer to heart issues, the time following a diagnosis can be rough for all concerned.
For Sarnia, Ont. native Cory Welsh, seeing changes Parkinson’s made in his father’s life started him on the road, literally, to help out by cycling across the country to raise awareness of the debilitating disease and raise money for the battle against it.
On June 25, Welsh, a recent teaching graduate, began his Parkinson’s Cycle of Hope campaign in Vancouver. After 72 days of cycling, he estimates, he will be in Halifax and the end of his campaign.
While on the road, Welsh has been riding about 118 kilometres per day, staying with Parkinson’s-affected families, spreading the word and raising funds.
On Monday (July 9), he and co-organizer and support driver Elyse Parris stopped in Canmore for a break, where they were hosted by the Grande Rockies Resort.
Thus far, with a goal of $50,000, more than $32,000 is in the coffers, with much of it raised in Sarnia before the event started.
Welch’s father, Robert, 52, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2007. “I saw him suffering and he had to retire early from his work as a millwright,” said Welch. “But the hope of a cure keeps him positive. Rather than watch him suffer, I decided to do something to aid his positive mindset.
“Right now, when things get bad, he can think of his son cycling across Canada trying to help people like him.”
All money raised, said Welsh, goes to Parkinson’s societies in the area where it is donated, rather than to a national body. As he rides aross the country, Welsh is writing a blog and using social media to keep people aware of his journey.
Donation forms, his blog, background material and information about Parkinson’s is available at www.pdcycle.com
Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease for which there is no cure and which is treated with medication. Symptoms include tremors, slowness and stiffness, impaired balance, fatigue, soft speech, stooped posture and sleep disturbances, among others.
For Welsh’s father, work as a millwright became impossible. “He had to retire early, fatigue is the worst part for him. It was tough because he’s been turning wrenches all his life, but he’s got a positive outlook.
“At first, he didn’t think I’d do this, but that it’s happened, he’s pretty pumped about it. I think it helps keep his spirits high.”
Welsh said the idea of people cycling across the country is not new. “I’m not saying, ‘hey look at me and what I’m doing’, I’m just trying to raise awareness. I think Canadians want to help each other and that’s what I’m hoping for.
“The more people know about Parkinson’s, the better.”
In preparation for his cross-country ride, Welsh trained for eight months, got a commitment from Esso to cover his fuel costs and lined up sponsors ranging from Revolution Bicycle Shop to Pro Oil Change, where donations can be made.
As well, Parris’ parents, Nicola and Michael, donated a Dodge minivan as a support vehicle.
Thus far, said Welsh, the highlight of his journey has been staying with Parkinson’s-affected families who have shared their stories. “The support from people has been a highlight as well,” he said. “To see people come through is really awesome.”
So far, no surprise, the 150 kms between Revelstoke and Golden have been the most challenging, said Welsh. “But so far, we’ve had great weather and I hope it stays that way. It’s better than the heatwave we’ve been having in Ontario.”
In order to post comments on our web site, you must validate your email address. An email was sent to you when you registered that included an activation link. If you have not yet done so, please click on the link to activate your account.
If you did not receive your activation email, please click here to have it resent.