When Chris Woods, an avid cyclist, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 41, the mission of the Woods family, with his 73 year old mom, Edna, leading the charge, was to find a cycling event that raised money specifically for Parkinson’s research. For years Chris had been riding in the 150 mile Diabetes ride and the 150 mile MS ride but had never heard of one for PD. After much research, it became clear that there was nothing in the country, let alone the New England area, so the family decided to organize their own!
The New England Parkinson’s Ride took shape in the summer of 2008, and linked up with Team Fox at The Michael J Fox Foundation. Although we had only 35 riders that first year, we managed to raise over $27,000 for The Foundation. We started with a 30, 50, and 100 mile loop, with 10 rest stops manned by volunteers along the way, and added a 10 mile route in 2009, to accommodate younger families and less experienced cyclists. All routes begin and end at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, and travel through the countryside and shoreline of beautiful southern Maine.
The Ride has grown at an incredible rate over the past thirteen years and though 2019 drew over 1300 cyclists, from 27 states and 3 provinces of Canada to The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach, 2020 brought a host of new challenges. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, we were unable to ride together in OOB but that didn’t stop our ride family! Our 2020 Ride: Cycling In Sync brought out over 1000 cyclists in 50 states and 7 countries, who rode together…yet apart.
Watch a special shout out from Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, of NFL & American Ninja Warrior fame.
Fundraising continues through the end of the year but our dedicated cyclists and volunteers have raised over $800,000 so far! That brings our cumulative donations for The Michael J. Fox Foundation to $6.6 million since the inception of the Ride.
For 7 years in a row, the New England Parkinson’s Ride has been honored by Michael J. Fox himself as the largest independent single-day fundraising event for Team Fox in the entire country!
Michael and Co-Founder of The Michael J. Fox Foundation, Debi Brooks, share birthday wishes for Edna’s 85th Birthday at our 12th Annual Ride!
Michael J Fox thanks the New England Parkinson’s Ride – September 2017:
Watch a personal thank you from Michael when we hit the $1 million dollar mark:
Although our primary goal is to raise funds and awareness for Parkinson’s Disease, we like to think of our event as a “weekend at the beach, with a ride thrown in for fun”. Riders of all ages and abilities are welcome so it can become a wonderful family tradition or a weekend away with your cycling buddies. We now have entertainment, concessions, vendors, even showers at The Ballpark, so it’s a great way to spend a day, even if you’re just a spectator. Though all rides are completed in one day, there are many hotels in the area where friends and family can stay and play. Many of them offer discounted rates to those participating in the Ride (see Accommodations).
In addition, we offer a Pre-Ride Dinner on Friday night, where cyclists can socialize and check-in ahead of time for the morning’s ride. This is a special night and tickets sell out fast. Information on reservations for the Pre-Ride dinner is sent out to all registered riders and volunteers as we get closer to the Ride!
Our founders: Edna and Bob Woods
The New England Parkinson’s Ride obtained our 501(c)(3) status as a charitable organization in March of 2013 and, with the exception of the Executive Director and two part-time staff members, is run exclusively by volunteers. We are extremely grateful to our SPONSORS, as we rely solely on those dollars and registration fees for all operational expenses of The New England Parkinson’s Ride.