When John Ryan was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, it was a hard pill to swallow. It’s a disease that affects older people, he thought. Not me.
What he’d soon realize is that although Parkinson’s doesn’t discriminate when it comes to age, it doesn’t have to slow you down. “I realized I have to take control of my own destiny,” said Ryan, “I have to live my life to the fullest and create as much awareness about the disease as possible.”
In an effort to do just that, he joined the Unity Walk, an annual event to increase awareness of Parkinson’s. Raising $15,000 in his first year, it’s safe to say the event was a success.
It was also at the Unity Walk that Ryan met a man who changed his life. At age 60, he’d completed several marathons. “If this is your diagnosis, you have to stay active,” he told Ryan. Though he didn’t consider himself a runner at the time, Ryan took the advice seriously.
What started with 5ks turned to half marathons, including the NYC race that Ryan ran twice, this year shaving 30 minutes off his time. “My diagnosis gives me the mental ability to get stuff done,” he says. “I like the challenge to do things.” Which he has proven by not only completing numerous races, but also by logging over 270 miles with Charity Miles for the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
Ryan in not only an inspiration, he’s also proof that you can achieve whatever you set your mind to — even if you have limitations. So, “Go out there and help yourself by being active,” he says. “And help me raising money [with using Charity Miles].”
Are you ready to help John Ryan outfox Parkinson’s?