Bicycling is a way to fight Parkinson's disease for an 81-year old patient

Bob Wilson is not a quitter, and the Parkinson's Center of Oregon at Oregon Health & Science University will benefit from his steely determination October 10 when he and other members of "Team Bob" mount specially constructed bicycles for a fund-raising outing at The Springs at Tanasbourne.

The 81-year-old former engineering manager at Pacific Power & Light retired in 1990 and was diagnosed with Parkinson's two years later. Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that often impairs motor skills, speech and other functions.

After receiving his diagnosis, Bob refused to abandon his favorite hobby -- bicycling. In fact, his dedication became even more intense. For the next five years -- between 1992 and 1996 -- Bob participated in the grueling Cycle Oregon bike competition five times, clocking nearly 1,000 miles each year on his bike, including the 500 miles of training necessary for each event.

Progressively, however, Bob was unable to pursue his highly physical interests, including biking, downhill skiing, fly fishing and golf. When the day arrived for Bob to relinquish his cycling hobby, it was a difficult decision, but he trusted the future would hold more fun adventures of a different type. That's when he and wife, Helen, who have been married for 59 years, decided to move to The Springs at Tanasbourne, a 230-unit retirement community located in the Tanasbourne Town District section of Hillsboro.

Shortly after his arrival, one of Tanasbourne's staff members, Jody McManus, asked Bob if he could have any dream of his come true, what would it be? The answer came quickly and without hesitation: "I would like to get on my bike again."

Touched by his response, McManus solicited the help of others who could make Bob's wish a reality. On October 10, he will mount a special recumbent bicycle that places the rider in a laid-back, reclining position, making the riding experience more comfortable and less demanding.

Donations collected from participants in the bike outing with Team Bob will be given to the Parkinson's Center of Oregon. Founded in 1979 and part of Oregon Health & Science University, the Parkinson's Center of Oregon is recognized as the premier center for Parkinson's disease in the Northwest. It has received national designation as a center of excellence for Parkinson's disease care, education and research.

Center Director Dr. John G. Nutt, who has been involved in Bob's diagnosis and treatment, praised the octogenarian for his determination and his desire to support the search for a Parkinson's cure.

"Bob Wilson is an amazing man who refuses to surrender to his physical challenges," Dr. Nutt said. "I am personally grateful to know Bob, and I and my associates appreciate his efforts in the battle against Parkinson's."


The Springs at Tanasbourne


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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