New England Parkinson’s Ride

By Edna Woods
In the year 2006 the Woods family was in a wonderful place…Bob had retired both from the Army and his
civilian job, and our 5 sons and 2 daughters were healthy, happy, married with beautiful children of their
own…life was good. 14 years ago this weekend everything changed, and a whole new adventure began. Our
youngest son, Chris, was 41 years old. He was athletic, strong, and healthy. He was an avid cyclist, riding in the
150 mile MS, and 150 mile Diabetes rides to raise money for causes that affected his in-law family. After
volunteering for a month with the Red Cross in New Orleans, to help out after Hurricane Katrina, he came home
realizing something weird was going on with his body. After many tests and long hours of worry… was it a
stroke…ALS…MS…it was finally determined that he had Parkinson’s Disease. WHAT???! How does this even
happen…nobody in the family has ever had this disease as far back as we could figure. After the initial shock,
Chris became stronger than ever. He remarked that originally his thoughts were “Why me?”, but quickly
answered himself…”Why NOT me? Why anybody?!!”

Like any mother whose child is hurting, the initial feeling was one of utter helplessness, followed immediately by
the determination to DO something! The family searched the internet to find a ride that raised money for
Parkinson’s Disease, but found only a small ride with a handful of people riding together from Revere, MA to Old
Orchard Beach, ME. The Woods family jumped in and joined them (quite possibly overwhelming them) but the
logistics of a one way ride became too much. The following year that ride folded.

Now What??!! It was mid-July, and we were planning to ride on the second Saturday in September. My
husband, Bob, and I jumped in our car and headed to Maine…maps in hand. We scouted sites where we could
do three rides…100…50…and 30 miles, starting and ending in Old Orchard Beach. Thanks to Bob’s years in the
Army he was really good at map reading We drove all day, talking to people along the way, and then went
home and created the routes. There was, of course, a lot more work to do. We had to get permits, find rest
stops, figure out food & water, and recruit cyclists and volunteers. But…eight weeks later, on September 13,
2008, we had 35 cyclists riding in the first annual New England Parkinson’s Ride! We raised $27,500 in cash and
checks and made the decision to donate 100% of it to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for research toward a cure.
And thus began an adventure that has grown beyond my wildest imagination. My “family” is no longer just the
extended Woods Family but is now my entire Ride Family. We no longer do this just for Chris, we do it for all of
those we have fallen in love with and those we don’t even know. Although Bob passed away suddenly in 2017,
he continues his great work from above and is with us in spirit every step of the way.

So here we are getting ready for the 2020 ride…Lucky #13!! COVID-19 has made things difficult and it would be
so easy to say, “I’ll just take a year off”. But I’m almost 86 years old and if I’m not taking this year off, neither
can you! We can’t stop until we find a cure! It doesn’t matter if you ride, walk, run, or dance, just please do
something in unison with us as we “Cycle In Sync” on September 12th! Call your friends & family and get them to
register. Together we will put an end to Parkinson’s Disease! LIVE. RIDE. CURE! I love you all, Edna