Ultra-athlete Sam Fox went through three long and back-breaking months, hiking, climbing and biking across the United States, all for the sake of raising awareness and funds for Parkinson’s disease through The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, and in honor of his own mother, Lucy, who’s been living with the debilitating disease since 2000. Sam (not related to the Michael J. Fox) has finished the Tour de Fox, which began June 2 in Maine, and ended just last Saturday, September 12 in Vancouver in Canada. This athletic feat successfully raised $1.87 million for much-needed research on the disease.
The Tour de Fox had Sam traverse a total of 14,000 miles, of which 8,000 were crossed on his bicycle. Sam was never alone throughout his journey. As he went along, over 2,000 participants did what they could to join him, 129 of which were Parkinson’s disease patients themselves. By the end of the tour, over 7,000 individual pledges from grassroots and community fundraisers were gathered.
The Foundation’s Board of Directors showed exceptional support for the tour, with Lauren and Lee Fixel donating $750,000. This generous amount led to almost $250,000 in grassroots donations on Sam’s first day on the Tour. Rick Tigner, one of the board member’s, and the President of Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates, was behind the largest Tour de Fox fundraising biking event, “Tour de Fox: Wine Country Edition,” which took place in Sonoma County, California and gathered almost $440,000.
“The power of the Parkinson’s community to bring about change can’t be overstated, and Tour de Fox has united and motivated Parkinson’s patients and families in a whole new way,” said Michael J. Fox. “Sam Fox may be slightly nuts to have taken this on, but thanks to the thousands who came out to support his extreme undertaking this summer, we’re reminded that working together not only helps us share our strength and hope — it also brings us tangibly closer to the cure.”
Over the course of the Tour, Sam said he often thought about his mother and the members of the Parkinson’s disease community that had joined his mission along the way — especially when he would go through particularly challenging stretches. “As the bruises and aches began to set in, I often thought about how these pains were temporary, while the challenges faced by my mom and those living with PD are every day,” Sam said. “I am honored to have met so many with Parkinson’s and their families who shared their grace and strength with me, and who kept me going every step of the way.”
The Tour de Fox was sponsored by Volkswagen, lululemon athletica, Specialized, Gatorade, Prothena and Adamas Pharmaceuticals. Those interested to get involved can still send in donations until the end of 2015.