In March 2017, we began cycling from Lisbon, Portugal to Auckland, New Zealand, to complete a circumnavigation of the globe by bicycle, begun with our trip across Canada in 2013. Our intended route was to take us through southern Europe, Turkey and the Caucasus, India and south-east Asia, China, South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
We had decided to use the trip to raise awareness of and funding for Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Any donations made in connection with this cycle trip were directed to the Parkinson Society British Columbia (PSBC). We chose this organization in consultation with our dear friend, Margaret deGrace, who had been living with PD for the past 25 years. Marg convinced us of the quality of the programs and research funded by PSBC which benefit many people.
The trip was interrupted in May 2017, when Paul was hit by a car in Italy. On October 2, five months after the collision, we were back en route, starting where we left off, in Pietre Ligure, Italy. The mode of transportation changed while Paul’s recuperation continued. Our travels took us by foot, train and bus through Italy, Austria, Eastern Europe, Greece and Cyprus. After Christmas in France, we spent New Years in Dubai and then a month travelling through India. Sadly, our trip was interrupted once again when Lois’ 97-year old mother passed away on February 1, 2018. On March 30, our friend Marg died suddenly, from complications from PD.
So, it is was with heavy hearts that we resumed our trip on May 2, 2018, this time back on our bikes. We flew from Victoria to Seoul, South Korea. Missing out south east Asia and China, we cycled through South Korea, from Hiroshima to Kyoto in Japan, from Sydney to Brisbane in Australia and on two trails in New Zealand. We returned to BC in mid-September 2018, officially ending our “Shifting Gears for Parkinson’s” adventure. Although the trip did not go entirely as expected, we traveled 47,252 kilometres, of which 4,503 kms were by bicycle, and visited 16 countries. Thanks to the great generosity of family, friends and other donors, we raised $15,060 for Parkinson’s Society of British Columbia.
We also learned a lot about PD. As we found in each country we visited, Parkinson’s Disease exists throughout the world, with a similar prevalence everywhere, affecting approximately 0.2% of the population. It is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s disease. The cause of PD is unknown, and although there is currently no cure, medications and other treatment options are available to manage its symptoms. One of the biggest challenges for people with PD worldwide is accessing rehabilitation and other community programs and therapies that can help manage the progression of the disease and maintain quality of life and independence. In most cases, where such services are available, they are provided by support groups such as Parkinson Society British Columbia.
Parkinson Society British Columbia, whose purpose is “to ease the burden and find a cure for Parkinson’s disease through advocacy, education, research and support services”, provides vital support to the Parkinson’s community through educational programs, advocacy, public awareness and community outreach. The Society receives no government funding and relies entirely on the generosity of individual donors, members, corporations, foundations and the dedicated efforts of volunteers.