When Alf Todd straps on his helmet and jumps onto his bike he feels like a new man.
Despite living with Parkinson’s disease for the last decade, when he starts pedalling the stiffness and rigidity of his body fades away. He forgets about the fact that he lost his sense of smell years ago and focuses on the journey ahead.
“There’s times in the day where I can barely walk, but once I get on the bike I don’t have Parkinson’s. It’s a different signal from the brain to the extremities. It’s complicated and I don’t fully understand it,” laughed the now 66-year-old Colwood resident, who is raising awareness of the disease this weekend.
Todd was originally diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement, 11 years ago. Symptoms, such as tremors, start gradually and can result in stiffness and slowing of overall movement. There is no cure.
“I knew there were issues. I knew something was going on, I didn’t know what,” said Todd about being diagnosed.
“After my doctor suggested it could be Parkinson’s, I went home and punched in Parkinson’s symptoms on the computer and there was a check list. There was no question in my mind.”
Despite the diagnosis, Todd remained positive and refused to let it take over his life. He still had things he wanted to accomplish, and wanted to be physically able to play with his five grandchildren.
Then he hopped on his bike again. It was slow going at first, but now, Todd rides his bike almost everywhere he goes – an activity that helps his Parkinson’s. In recent years, Todd has combined his passion for cycling with finding a cure for the disease.
Roughly six years ago, Todd and his daughter organized a long-distance ride from Victoria to San Francisco in which 16 riders raised close to $30,000.
Last June he also organized a ride from Port Hardy to Victoria with 15 riders – six of whom suffer from the disease and raised roughly $28,000. Both fundraisers were in support of Parkinson’s research.
Fast forward a few years and this weekend, Todd will be embarking on another challenging ride – cycling 200 kilometres from Victoria to Sproat Lake in one day to raise money for Parkinson’s programs at Headway Victoria Epilepsy and Parkinson’s Centre on Oak Bay Avenue.
Overall, he hopes to bring awareness to the disease.
“Cancer gets lots of attention and breast cancer and that’s fantastic they need it, but there’s a lot of other places too that need research, ALS, MS, Parkinson’s, there’s so much,” Todd said.
“I realize you can’t give to everything, but when we do a fundraiser and make $10,000 or $20,000, it’s only a drop in the bucket. But some day the bucket will fill.”
In addition to the ride, Todd has also set up an online fundraising campaign that has raised over half of its $3,000 goal.
The bike ride takes place on Saturday, Aug. 11, where Todd will depart at 6 a.m. from 3118 Antrobus Cresc before riding to Sproat Lake.
To donate to the cause, visit gofundme.com and search Support Alf’s ride for Parkinson’s.