An Incredible Journey

Failure IS the option. You never know what you are truly capable of until you push yourself, that you are ok to fail.

Bill Bucklew

We can learn to push forward in the face of failure

Tim Hague, Sr.

In a conversation the other day with another Person with Parkinson’s (PwP), the question came up as to why so many other PwP’s seem to be Type A personalities, driven to do things that they may not have ever considered pre-Parkinson’s. Is it the changes in our brain that cause this? Or the medication’s we take? Or maybe it is just a Parkinson’s personality. I don’t think anyone knows the answer.

The Long Walk for Parkinson’s

Starting September 14, four men with Parkinson’s – Chicagoans Bill Bucklew, Jim Kroeger and Kevin Murray, along with John McFee from Scotland, will be showing the world what PwP’s are capable of when they decide to do something. They will be embarking on The Long Walk for Parkinson’s, starting at the very top of Scotland in John O’Groats on September 15. Their goal is to walk 40 miles a day for 15 days, ending with the London Marathon on October 3, for a total of 670 miles. They hope to raise $1.1M for Parkinson’s research, $1 for each of the 1.1M people with Parkinson’s in the US and the UK.

I had a chance to interview Bill, Jim and Kevin on Zoom shortly before they left for the UK. Jim and Kevin repeatedly referred to Bill as the Ironman. Bill walked across America several years ago in 67 days to raise awareness for Parkinson’s. As a long distance runner, he was able to average 40 miles a day walking, which is an amazing feat. It takes 17-18 hours to walk 40 miles a day. That leaves little time to recover before starting out again the next morning. Neither Jim nor Kevin can compare themselves to Bill. Both had physical issues while training, so they each plan to walk about 20 miles a day and catch a ride in the RV when necessary to keep up.

Failure is the option

Neither sees this as failure. In fact, Jim quoted a line from Bill’s TED Talk about his first walk: “Failure is the option, you never know what you are truly capable of until you push yourself, that you are ok to fail”. This was their inspiration for joining Bill on this venture.

Going back to my original question: would they have taken this on before Parkinson’s? Jim says “no”, he probably would not have done anything like this before. His theory is that “as your skills and abilities inevitably decline, there’s something in you that gets heightened by Parkinson’s that says ‘I can still do this. I am going to challenge myself. I can still fight to keep this ability and do what I can…..I am not ready to give up yet.’”

Kevin agrees that he would not have done this either in his pre-PD life. He says he is “trying to get in as much as best he can.” He has had to stop doing some things because of a decline in physical abilities.

Bill never did the Iron Man race until after he was diagnosed. He always wanted to do something adventuresome every year when he was younger. Looking back, se calls it seeking dopamine and thinks that he probably had a lack of dopamine then that he was trying to supplant. He says there is a sense of urgency with Parkinson’s to do what you can now with what you have available to you. He is more concious of time and the progression of the disease catching up with him. People are always stopping Bill to tell him he can’t do something, but he finds that he almost always succeeds, even when he has doubts.

Back to the walk

There will be real-time streaming of the walk every day from the RV. Bill says that he will be moving fast to reach his goal of 40 miles per day. One hour each day will be designated for people to join the group. The details will be on the website and FaceBook page each day letting people know where and when they can meet up with group. If you can join them, bring a Twitchy Woman sign with you to show support!

The team has raised $65,000 so far without even asking for donations. They are currently doing a promotion with the Kirk Gibson Foundation through September 10 to raise money. There will be a drawing for every $25 or more donation for a 1/2 hour phone call with Kirk Gibson. (details to the left)

Here is the schedule for the walk. Check the website daily for updates.

Inline image

Finally, I want to wish a Happy New Year – Shana Tova to all of you who celebrate the holilday.

Wishing you a sweet and healthy new year


2 responses to “An Incredible Journey”

  1. Well done Twitchy Woman for all you do for Parkinson’s.
    My wife with Parkinson’s and I will support this event and, if possible, we will join the walk for a while, when the guys get closer to our home.
    I pitched to our synagogue board for Cure Parkinson’s to be one of the three nominated charities for this year’s Yom Kippur Appeal and this important charity was accepted. The pitch to the community goes out on line during our service in the Yom Kippur morning service.
    The appeal also asks for volunteers for an important research project being carried out by Prof. Anthony Shapira, at the Royal Free Hospital in London. The project is about the GBA gene and the mutations which appear more frequently in members of the Ashkenazi Jewish community than in the general population. He is also going to start the Phase 3 Ambroxol trial early next year.
    Shana Tova and very best wishes from
    Penny and Paul Kustow

    1. Paul, that is so nice to hear. I have never heard of any synagogue in the States that designates money from the High Holiday appeal to other charities. Most are just trying to raise enough money to stay afloat. If you join the walk, please send some photos! Sharon

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A Note To My Readers

I love to see your comments and get your emails as we share our collective experiences. But based on a couple of private questions from some of you, remember, I am just a lay person and a patient like the rest of you. For medical and similar advice, you need to talk to your own doctor

Twitchy Woman

Twitchy Women partners with the Parkinson’s Wellness Fund to ensure we have the resources to offer peer support for women with Parkinson’s.