By Courtny Gerrish
BROOKFIELD – Imagine slowly losing control of your body and knowing it will get worse. Over a million people have Parkinson’s disease–a degenerative disorder that impairs a person’s motor skills. One Brookfield man is riding past the odds.
Fifty-four-year-old George McCullough may not be able to spike the ping pong ball like he used to, but he can still give his daughter Alice a run for her money! George was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease eight years ago.
His wife Rene admits it can be a struggle. “I notice all the little things that are happening with it, with him with the Parkinson’s, and it’s a drag, it is, but it is what it is,” she explains.
For George and Rene, the most important issue is keeping life as normal as possible for their four kids.
“I’m still a husband, father, soccer coach, employed–so you have all these other aspects of your life that are more important than your Parkinson’s,” George says.
On solid ground… George has a tremor, and a stiffer gait than he used to, but on his bike–he becomes Brookfield’s own Lance Armstrong!
“Biking you can just go and it feels good, and feels like you don’t have it,” George explains.
But he does have it, and it’s a very real disease. Vicki Conti is the coordinator with the Froedtert & Medical College Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders Program. She says George is one of hundreds riding in this weekend’s ‘Moving Forward’ Ride/Walk for Parkinson’s.
“I think an event like this can both show the general public that people with Parkinson’s and any variety of disabilities are still people, and secondly, it’s really good for the Parkinson population to know that they can be out doing things proactively,” Conti says.
George is preparing for a 62-mile ride through the Lake Country area around Pewaukee. The event ranges from a 14-mile bike ride to a 62-mile adventure! Rene says his renewed love of biking is actually one of the blessings of the disease.
“There’s changes, but also good things coming out of it too. He’s exercising more–he exercises more than I do,” Rene exclaims.
While simple activities take longer than they used to, George is ready for all of the challenges that lie ahead.
“I certainly don’t feel scared of the future.” He adds, “A lot of the future I’m looking forward to–the kids growing up, moving out!”
The ride benefits Froedtert’s Parkinson’s Program, and the Davis Phinney Foundation. Phinney is a former Olympic cyclist who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2000.