Seventy-year-old Alf Todd is gearing up for his annual Parkinson’s ride — a 100-kilometre trek taking place on Aug. 27.
“This is where my emotions kick in,” Alf says tearing up. “I’ve had Parkinson’s now for 16 years and I’m a fighter.”
This is the sixth year for the ride, which raises money for the Parkinson Wellness Project (PWP).
“I will ride, I will do whatever I have to do to bring awareness to help other people,” Alf says. “We need to create more awareness. Parkinson’s is one of those areas people kind of forget about.”
Pedalling for a cure, Alf has raised a couple hundred thousand dollars with this and other fundraisers over the years — all to help others.
“I’m at a loss for words to describe my admiration for the man and it just shows you the absolute grit that we all need to be able to face the challenges of life,” says rider Brian Wood.
Brian knows first-hand the toll that Parkinson’s takes. He’s riding in honour of his late wife, who had Parkinson’s, and died two years ago.
“It was a terrific struggle for her and things like this just are so beneficial for the Parkinson’s community and just for people in general,” Brian says, choking up. “She had a lot of grit, too.”
Each rider has a deeply personal reason for taking part.
“I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s eight years ago and I’m a firm believer that exercise is a beneficial way to help slow down the symptoms,” explains rider Andy Robinson.
For Alf, who recently celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary, getting on and off the bike is getting harder and there are now days he can barely walk.
“I’ve got a very, very supportive wife who’s always by my side,” an emotional Alf says. “It becomes all-consuming in your life.”
“This is an awful, awful disease that he’s saddled with and he’s not going down easily on his own” Brian adds. “He’s fighting every step of the way.”
“Alf is an inspiring figure for all of us because he’s had the disease for a long time and he struggles, but he still gets on his bike and rides and that makes it easier for us to do the same,” says Andy.
But for Alf, being on his bike means freedom.
“As a rule, when I’m on this bike. I don’t have Parkinson’s,” he says with a laugh. “It lets me know that I still got time left.”