Each month, we spotlight an inspiring story from someone in our Team DPF® community who is helping to improve the quality of life of people living with Parkinson’s by raising funds. Today, we are happy to feature Suzanne Harrison from Durango, Colorado.
Which event did you participate in?
I have ridden the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic (IHBC) in Durango five times. This year will be my sixth. Before I decided to do the ride, I hadn’t been on a bike in 40 years; so, it was a big goal.
I started doing spin classes and then, when it was time to start training outside, I bought a bike. During one of the training rides, Joe Williams rode up to me and said, “I’m going to ride with you today.” He could tell I was really struggling and stepped up to help me see it through. As we rode, he told me his Parkinson’s story and suddenly complaining felt all wrong. Joe was so encouraging and such a great coach that instead of thinking about how difficult it was, I had a really meaningful experience.
The first year I rode for Livestrong; however, they never came back after that so I happily joined team Go Joe Go, and I’ve been there ever since.
Why did you decide to join Team DPF?
Joe was a great introduction to the Foundation, but also, my dad had Parkinson’s as well. Now my cousin has it so it’s all so close to home. I see first hand how difficult it can be for some people living with Parkinson’s to get through the day, which makes the mission of the Foundation to help people with Parkinson’s live well today that much more important.
What’s been your best memory as part of Team DPF?
There are so many, but the one that stands out most for me was the year that Joe seemed to really be struggling a lot. We passed each other several times, and I just knew he wasn’t feeling as strong as he usually did. I reached the top of Silverton, and when Joe reached it soon after and got off his bike, the first thing he said was, “Where’s Suzanne?” I couldn’t believe that after everything he had gone through that day that he wanted to make sure I was okay. But, that’s just the kind of guy Joe is.
What are the most important actions you took that helped you reach your fundraising goal?
I think the most important thing is consistency. Sometimes it takes three or four contacts before people donate; so, I have a plan where I send about six to seven emails where I ask for donations, talk about the ride and the training I’m doing, share the story of how I started, and more. It’s really important to share your story and the journey you’re taking because that’s what people connect with the most. It’s also critical to thank everyone along the way and once you’ve completed the ride.
What would you say to someone interested in joining Team DPF?
Join! And if you’re going to be in Durango, join Go Joe Go. Next, really get to know the Foundation and all of the ways that it helps people affected by Parkinson’s. Doing so will help you tell the kind of story that gets people invested and prompts them to take action to support you. The past four years have been so much fun, even those times when the snow rolls in, and I can’t wait for ride number five this year.
Do you have a Team DPF or fundraising story you’d like to share?
Your story, like Suzanne’s, could be featured on our blog and Facebook page so others can learn from your experiences. Submit Your Team DPF Moments of Victory® Story now.
If you’re not yet part of Team DPF, but you’d like to join us in raising money to help people live well with Parkinson’s today, contact our team to get started. Or just head over now and register for the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic here.