Every day we like to shine a spotlight on people doing amazing work — both with Charity Miles and without. Today we’re featuring Grove Ayers, an active advocate for Parkinson’s disease, Boy Scout leader, and self proclaimed “beach bum, man for all seas” (as sang by Jimmy Buffet).
Here’s what he had to say:
What is your greatest accomplishment as of late?
I’m just a normal 50-year-old guy. There’s not much that I’m proud of other than my children…but I do feel pretty good about my Charity Miles results so far. In the first year, I’ve logged 935 miles — all for the Michael J. Fox Foundation. My highlight from last summer was logging over 50 miles during a Boy Scout ‘High Adventure’ trip in the River of No Return wilderness area in Idaho. My highlight this year has been a couple of weeks where I got in 40+ miles. My record week was just a few weeks ago — 78.89 miles!
How did you achieve it?
I try to get up and run early most mornings and then add a walk later during or after work, as my schedule allows. This month, I added biking to my Charity Miles routine, and I’m really enjoying that!
What motivates you to make the world a better place?
“A path is made by walking on it.” Little gestures, little efforts all add up to make a bigger impact. I am inspired by so many of the Charity Miles stories. I see passionate people that often sacrifice so much to do good in the world. I see so many people that commit a little bit of time and energy and truly transform the world around them. I know I can’t hope to be as courageous as most of those folks, but I don’t think I’m unique when I say that, at the end of my life, I want people to say :“He was a good and decent man.” We owe it to ourselves and our children to try to leave the world a little better than we found it.
What do you do to stay healthy and fit?
I’ve always been pretty active. I’ve spent most of the last 25+ years on me feet. I try to workout 3-5 times a week, I really don’t eat fast food, I walk and/or run every day. My favorite time to exercise is at or before dawn.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
After a really taxing run-in with a horribly unpleasant man, my friend and mentor, Al Riedmann said “You gotta feel sorry for a guy like that.” It was a life lesson. I learned to try to see things from a variety of perspectives. When we can do that, we end up with a greater capacity not only for understanding, compassion and love, but for humility. “Respond intelligently, even to unintelligent treatment,” said Lao Tzu. Think first, reserve judgement, then think again before speaking.
What’s your favorite aspect of using Charity Miles?
I don’t know that I can pick just one! Simple to use — just press, press, and GO! Impact-wise, the whole concept of donating without opening your wallet is perfect. As for social media integration, seamlessly helps those of us who want to evangelize about it.
Who do you exercise for, and why?
My Dad. In November of 2004, my father Sandy Ayers was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 71. When he called to tell me the news, I was stunned. All I knew about Parkinson’s was that it was a degenerative disease without a cure. My Dad was a very fit, active guy.
His doctor at the time wanted to put him on the usual drugs right away. Dad’s position was “no drugs until I really need them, until this disease really impacts my life.”
Recently retired, my Dad made Parkinson’s his job. He researched alternative therapies, consulting with leading research neurologists at OHSU in Portland. He participated in studies, tried Chinese folk remedies, had alternative drugs custom compounded for him, the works. At the same time, he became an active advocate, working with Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon and joining their board. He testified before Congress, he participated in galas and fundraising walks and support groups. He inspired me to get involved. I started learning about PD. I joined the Parkinson’s Action Network, writing letters and emails to members of Congress and the NIH. In 2011, about the same time Dad started taking PD drugs, I moved back to Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho. Last year I found the fledgling Coeur d’ Alene Parkinson’s Support Group here in town and joined up with them. After a short stint on the Board, I became the organizations president. We are actively engaged with the community now, offering classes and exercise sessions as well as the support group meetings. We are looking for move ways to serve the PD community in our area. In short, I am inspired to use Charity Miles to help fund PD research in honor of my (alive n’ kickin’) Dad who I love and admire.