Week 37: An Intergalactic Journey to Jupiter to fight Parkinson’s Disease
Sometimes Mother Nature creatively challenges your plans. A late winter storm dropped 22 inches of snow on our town last week. The storm left behind a magical landscape of thickly drifted blankets of snow, icing-draped trees pulled low across the roads, and…. a State of Emergency. It looked like a fairy tale and it cancelled my charity activity for the week.
This was week 39 and I needed a last minute back-up plan in order to stay on track with my 52-week journey. We were a lucky neighborhood that did not lose power, so internet research led me to an organization called Moon Joggers.
Moon Joggers is not a non-profit in itself. It uses the power of social media and outreach to create a virtual running community where participants set individual mileage goals and work together to meet group goals and donate to charities. Their campaigns center around mileage for travel between earth and various planets. They tie their campaigns to charities.
Intrigued, I joined their 2018 mission – the Journey to Jupiter, which meant I became one of tens of thousands of runners, walkers and joggers from all over the world working together to log enough group miles to reach Jupiter by the end of 2018…. according to their website, that’s 484 million miles. As part of our journey, a portion of our registration fee is donated to their charity of the year, in this case The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Participants can also donate additional amounts beyond the percentage of registration fee.
The trip blasted off January 1st so by the day I joined the group total was already up to 17.1 million miles!
Registration was a snap. You sign up and set a personal goal for the total number of miles you pledge to run, walk or jog in 2018. The miles are grouped by levels: from a 100-mile Space Ranger, to a 750-mile Private, to the 2,018 mile Lieutenant and a variety of levels in between. I registered as a Cadet – pledging 500 miles in 2018. With 42 weeks left in 2018, that meant I’d need to log just about 12 miles a week – a fairly aggressive goal for me based on my current level of inactivity and inconsistency around exercise!
As you earn your miles you log in and track them on the site. Your personal miles contribute to the grand total of miles of all the participants. There’s a fun graphic of a jogger running across the solar system towards Jupiter. He moves closer to the target as the group logs their miles. As I write this our jogger is moving closer to Venus….
Registration comes with a special participant package – t-shirt, medal, bib and window decal, to help keep you focused and on track. In addition, you can sign up for the Moon Joggers Facebook page and join the community in posting your successes and motivating each other.
Once I signed up, I immediately started worrying about making my weekly 12-mile goal. I’m hoping participating in this group activity will motivate and challenge me to work out consistently.
I thought Moon Joggers worked in a pinch as a substitute idea for a charitable activity, but I wanted to find out more about the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, since I’d pledged to run 500 miles and a donation of support to them. I spent some time that snowy afternoon on their website and learned that there are 5 million people world-wide who are living with Parkinson’s. In the US alone, 60,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year. I learned that Parkinson’s is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder that affects 1 in 100 people over age 60. The exact cause is unknown but research is pointing to a mix of genetic and environmental factors.
I also learned about the Foundation’s aggressive research focused on finding for a cure and developing improved therapies for people living with Parkinson’s. Since 2000, they’ve funded more than $750 million towards those priorities. I was able to read case studies on genetic findings, enzymes and clinical trials. The website has an extensive section devoted to understanding the disease: symptoms, causes, prognosis, education, treatment options and resources. There’s an area for researchers to apply for grants, learn about and participate in foundation-funded studies, find research tools and resources and participate in challenges for sponsored prizes.
The site also offers a ton of opportunities to get involved – from financial donations, fundraisers and community engagement, to participating in clinical trials.
In all, the Foundation’s website was a wholistically supportive environment for people living with Parkinson’s, their families, medical personnel and researchers.
I was most drawn to the section that shared stories and information on living with Parkinson’s. It was humbling to read through the various pieces and begin to understand of the journey of people living with Parkinson’s…. how they integrate the diagnoses into their lives, adapt their routines, understand and face the progression of the disease, understand what therapies and medications are available, how they manage the physical and mental aspects of this progressive disease…
I came to realize this challenging and difficult diagnosis is a life-altering journey and that the loved ones of those diagnosed share in that journey and embark on a life-ling partnership of support. It’s really important for families to connect with resources for support and the Foundation helps connect families with these outside organizations and support systems.
There’s also hope. Stem cell and genetics research have led to a greater understanding and plan of attack against the disease, and the development of new drugs and therapies. Better understanding of the disease is leading to earlier and more accurate identification, which means earlier interventions and programs for care, leading to a longer, fuller life.
After a few hours of research I was touched by the experiences I learned through the videos, blogs, articles and webpages. I was encouraged by the research and new developments in treating and diagnosing the disease. I was touched by the number of grassroots fundraising efforts of patients and their families, working to raise funds for the organization. As I continue to add to my miles in 2018, to work towards my 500-mile goal on my Journey to Jupiter, I plan to keep the Foundation and its patients in mind through moments of silent prayer for the people living with this disease and the families who support them.
So… Do you want to join me on my Journey to Jupiter? Make a pledge to develop a healthy habit and combat Parkinson’s? I’ve put the link to Moon Joggers below – just register, choose your mileage goals and go!
Let me know in the comments if you decide to join the trip so we can connect and cheer each other on!
Thank you for joining me on this week’s journey!
Until next week,
– Penny XO XO
To make a donation to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, please visit the donation page of their website at:
To learn more about the organization as a whole, and the disease itself, please visit their main website at:
To pledge miles and join me on the Journey to Jupiter, please visit: