Post written by Dr. Karen Blindauer
10/10/10 was a beautiful day. It was warm, sunny, and fresh. The trees in the Dousman area were in full color. 500 riders, walkers and runners came out to support the Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders Program at Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin. Among those were me, my husband, son and neighbors, Drs. Hiner and Hung (Dr. Spangler was on call in the hospital), gold medal cyclist Connie Carpenter-Phinney, three of the Klement’s Racing Sausages and more than 50 hard-working volunteers who served as route sentries, rest stop workers, cooks and servers, massage therapists, face painters and more.
But the stars of the show were the people with Parkinson’s and their families. Like Jeff Kramer, who rides a three-wheeler. Balance problems from his Parkinson’s prevent him from riding a two-wheeler anymore. Jeff has never ridden his three-wheeler farther than four miles. But at 10:30 a.m., he set out with a group of about 50 folks — some on tandems, some on three-wheelers, some on one-speed bikes. This was the Parkinson’s community and their chidren and grandchildren. As Jeff started to struggle at about the five-mile point, he took a rest and a drink at the rest stop ... and then he peddled on. Despite the description that the 10-mile course was not hilly, he was struggling up a good-sized hill.
Meanwhile, world-class cyclist Connie Carpenter-Phinney, was closing in on the finish of her 100K ride. Connie is married to Davis Phinney, who was the first American to win a stage in the Tour de France and who established the Davis Phinney Foundation tp inspire and inform people living with Parkinson's. Connie had set out with a group of 50 at 8:30 a.m. One of those folks was George McCullough who had completed the 100K last year on a 40-year-old Schwinn in about six and a half hours. This year he had a new bike and it looked like he was going to shave about two hours off his time.
As Connie glided up a hill, knowing she only had a couple of miles to go, she saw a small man pumping hard on a three-wheeler, and she slowed her pace to accompany him. One of the thrills of Jeff Kramer’s life was riding across the finish line beside Olympian Connie Carpenter. The thing is, it was one of the thrills in her life, too. She knew it took Jeff more courage to ride his 10 miles than it ever took her to ride 60.
At 11:00 a.m., the walk began. 300 people lined up behind the Klement’s Hot Dog and set out to walk either one or two miles on the Glacial Drumlin Trail. It was a sea of color. Bill’s Buddies had a team of 60 family and friends, and they wore yellow. Team McCullough had 50 and they wore green. The rest of us wore blue and the Hot Dog, of course, wore “hot dog!” That may become next year’s new crayola color.
After the walking, riding and running, we entered the big tent and listened to live music by “Off the Grid,” the band fronted by Tom Klein, owner of The Bicycle Doctor, which hosted the event. We ate a hot meal of brats and Saz’s pulled pork. We walked around little downtown Dousman and felt like a community. I’m so proud to be a part of the Parkinson’s community. I’m so grateful that we raised $50,000 for our Parkinson’s Program. That money will be used to provide books and DVDs and support group speakers and other educational materials for people with Parkinson’s and their families. We will be able to put on our annual Symposium next year at a low cost to patients and families. We will be able to supplement the cost of community exercise classes. We will be able to send members of our team for further specialized training in the field. And we will be able to offer support to various research initiatives for Parkinson’s within the Neurosciences department.