Three years ago I signed up to run my first marathon, the world's largest in New York City. It had been 10 years since I had run regularly. I was intimidated, scared of not being able to finish; scared to fail.
I signed up in a moment of inspiration, and of apparent faith -- in myself, that I would find a way to accomplish something I had previously never even thought of trying. There was, and continues to be something irresistible in the 'impossible' and that was the spark.
My parents were my motivation to run my first marathon. My father endured Parkinson's disease for more than a decade and as I watched him gallantly fight, with my mom by his side, against its irreversible tide, I knew that I wanted to be a part of ending the disease. I would run to end Parkinson's. Each stride would signal my voice, my contribution to the cause.
It is here when my connection was made with The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. Within this organization I saw the vision and the fearlessness necessary to achieve the 'impossible' -- a cure for Parkinson's disease. I would run the NYC marathon wearing the Team Fox (the Foundation's community fundraising arm) jersey and raising awareness for their pioneering research. I had joined a team of passionate, driven people, all pulling in the same direction, it was awesome.
The months leading up to that first marathon began what I consider to be the most fulfilling time of my life (which continues unabated). Training produced its fair share of pain, and at times it was accompanied by a real mental struggle to overcome what I perceived to be the unattainable. My greatest challenge was my own fear. I constantly doubted my resolve and my ability. But as I watched as my community of supporters and peers grow, I was emboldened. I just kept going, I didn't quit, I pushed harder and my self-imposed boundaries began to fall, one at a time, and have not stopped falling since, and not just in running, also in life.
In November of 2010, I ran in the New York City Marathon in honor of my father and every person impacted by Parkinson's disease. As I ran I felt a part of something, part of a team, a movement to end PD and at its vanguard the Michael J. Fox Foundation, a community that has become my family. Not only did I finish, I thrived. Since 2010 I have run three more marathons, another in NYC, one in Paris, and another in Boston this past spring.
One year ago I left my job and my home in Vancouver and began my Master's in Helsinki. My research is focused on the impact individuals can have on non-profits and ultimately social change through new media. The Michael J. Fox Foundation community is not only a source of inspiration for my study; they are also participating directly in the research. My passion for running and for this cause has come to drive my personal, professional and academic learning.
This November I am running my third NYC marathon, again with 'impossible' goals, and with the support of incredible people connected to me in some way by Parkinson's, I'm confident I will achieve them.
I am now doing what I love. I found it because I made the decision to begin. That decision, and the experiences and relationships it has manifested have changed the course of my life, and empowered me in ways I cannot explain nor fully comprehend.
I started. It was the most important thing I have ever done.