Steve Quam has traveled across the country on his bicycle three times now, stopping in communities all over trying to raise awareness about Parkinson’s disease.
As he has traveled on the nation’s highways and byways, he has had some close call and some terrifying moments.
But none quite like the one on Highway 2 near Kremlin on Friday.
As he was headed toward Havre, he was struck from behind by a motorist who was going 75 mph.
The traveling unit he was pulling behind on his bike nearly exploded, and he was thrown off the bike into a ditch on the side of the road.
He was taken to Northern Montana Hospital.
“They looked me over completely,” he said.
They judged him to be OK, and after resting for the weekend with the Rev. John Ulrich, pastor of Van Orsdel United Methodist Church, he started hearing east on Highway 2 Monday afternoon. People take him in as he visits communities, he said. In his past two trips, he stayed with churches more than 80 times, he said. He is a Methodist, but just about every denomination has taken him in.
Quam expects to go to Wolf Point and then Glendive as he resumes his long trek to the South Carolina coast.
He will stop off in Minnesota to help celebrate his mother’s 102nd birthday and attend his 50th high school class reunion.
And, as he goes, he will talk to people about the disease he has — what it is and what can be done to alleviate it. And, he hopes to get the message across to people who have the disease, that they can still live a rich fulfilling life despite the problems it brings.
There is no cure, but there are ways to lessen the impact, he said.
He is a living example of one of the best ways to fight the disease.
“Exercise is the best thing for you,” he said.
But staying fit is not easy.
“Depression is common about people with Parkinson’s Disease,” he said. “There is a real temptation to be a couch potato. Being a couch potato is the worst thing.”
That’s the advantage to being on a cross-country trip, he said.
“I’m 3,000 miles away from my couch.”
Along the way, Quam is raising funds and raising awareness for the Davis Phinney Foundation, which helps people who have Parkinson’s disease.
The foundation is named for an Olympic and Tour de France cyclist who got early-onset Parkinson’s when he was 40.
The foundation helps people fight back, keeping people active and happy.
“Most people think of Parkinson’s as an old person’s disease,” he said. “But many young people get it.”
Steve Quam will be traveling east from Havre in the coming days.
Want to help out this cross-country educational effort?
• If you know of any place in the Wolf Point or Glendiver areas, call Pastor John Ulrich at 406-212-1427 or email Quam’s wife at firstname.lastname@example.org. His wife will pass the information along to him.
• If you’d like to provide help to people with the disease, call up www.davisphinneyfoundation.org/ for ways you can help.