“I’m really excited,” she said. “It just gives me an opportunity to redefine myself as a woman, and not just as a mother, and to make a difference.”
Lynn said Roy finally agreed to go on the cross-country trip when he awoke from brain surgery in July. Among his first words: “I’m ready to go with you.”
Exercise is not only important for Parkinson’s patients, but research has shown that because of the chemicals the brain produces during exercise, it can slow the impact of the disease, Oberdorf said.
“These patients don’t have a muscle disease, they have a brain disease,” said Dr. Bruno V. Gallo, assistant professor of neurology and neurosurgery and director of the Deep Brain Stimulation program at the University of Miami School of Medicine. “Their muscles are fine, but they perceive themselves as having a muscle disease because they are slow, they’re stiff, they’re rigid. The more exercise they can do, the better, because it keeps their muscles toned.”
He hopes Roden can motivate others to say: ‘“If this guy can ride from Seattle to Miami, why can’t I just play nine holes of golf?”’
The Rodens have stepped up training to prepare for the 4,500-mile trip, which will take at least three months.
They plan to take five days to drive to Seattle, then ride their bikes an average of about 50 miles a day. Lynn’s brother, David Rambo, will accompany them, driving a Dodge Durango with the 1969 Airstream they will sleep in in tow. The Rodens’ dogs, Samantha and Oliver, will trail behind their bikes in carriers when it’s safe.
They chose the winter months intentionally.
“When you have Parkinson’s, heat is the enemy,” Roden said.
Their bike route will take them along the Pacific Coast Highway to San Diego. Then, they will stay parallel to Route 10 all the way back to Miami.
“It’s going to be quite an experience,” Roden said.
In preparation for the trip, the Rodens have sold much of their belongings, and traded others. In exchange for their Jeep, they got the 27-foot Airstream. They traded a TV for generator. They are giving up their rented home and putting their remaining belongings in storage.
“We are transitioning from quantity to quality,” Lynn said.
They said they have been buoyed by community support. Olympia Gym has held a fundraiser, and several businesses have donated items for the trip. City Bikes in Aventura has given them equipment, including a video camera they can hook onto their helmets. Best Buy has donated an iPad to blog. KOA has offered free lodging.
On the road, they plan to meet with local Parkinson’s chapters, while posting their experiences and photos on their website, www.pdchallenge.com. Roden is hoping to raise $50,000, including from donations made on the site, to give to four Parkinson’s charities.
“I am not an athlete doing something with charity in the background,” he said. “I’m somebody with Parkinson’s trying to do something for Parkinson’s.”
When the Rodens return from their trip, they don’t know yet where they will live. And they aren’t worried about it.
“The journey is going to be fantastic,” Roden said. “I’ve never done anything remotely like this before.”