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PDF Champions In Action

PDF Offers Slots for Two of the World’s Major Marathons!

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people in the US complete a marathon. The 26.2-mile race is becoming so popular that it is increasingly competitive to gain entry into the most sought-after events. This year, for those of you who are inspired to run a marathon and who also have an interest in furthering Parkinson’s research, the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (PDF) Champions program has an exciting new offer.

PDF has noticed, over the years, that our own Champions — creative fundraisers who have chosen PDF as their charity of choice — are no exception to the marathon trend. Many have chosen to run races — from 5ks to 10ks to marathons — to raise funds for PDF’s research, education and advocacy programs and to create awareness about Parkinson’s disease (PD) in their communities.

PDF is proud to announce that the 2008 PDF Champions Marathon team has spaces available for eight runners: six for the Chicago marathon on October 12, and an additional two for the Berlin Marathon on September 28.

Runners who choose to take on this challenge, in addition to receiving a coveted marathon spot, will commit to raising a minimum of $2,500 for PDF. Each will receive a PDF singlet to wear on race-day and a fundraising packet with helpful tips — plus a personal fundraising page and access to an online training marathon program, available through

If you are interested in running for PDF at the Chicago or Berlin Marathons or at a race of your choice, please contact Patrick Johnson at or (800) 457-6676 or visit

Why Run a Marathon? An Interview with Dan Kiefer

Dan Kiefer, a member of PDF’s People with Parkinson’s Advisory Council (PPAC) and a long-time member of Team Parkinson, a group that raises money for PD research, is familiar with the challenges and rewards a marathon brings. Below, he shares reflections on distance running with PDF’s News & Review.

Q. Dan, thank you for chatting with News & Review! We would love to hear about your marathon experiences. Can you tell us a bit about the races you have completed?
A. I ran the Los Angeles Marathon in 2006. It was my first and, so far, only full marathon. I also ran half-marathons in 2004 and 2007, along with several 5k races. These races have been empowering experiences for me personally. I have used each race to raise money, through Team Parkinson, for PD-related research.

Q. What inspired you to start? Were you always a runner?
A. I’ve always loved exercise — I played golf and skied and I was a recreational runner — but before I was diagnosed with PD, I had never run more than eight miles. I first became involved in distance running through John Ball and Team Parkinson. John has run many marathons and lived with PD for over 25 years. I owe a lot to the encouragement I received from him and his wife, Edna.

Q. Marathons and half-marathons are challenging for people with and without PD. Can you explain the benefits of running in general and of longer races?
A. First, running has so many physical benefits. Since my PD can make it difficult for me to stay still, I find that when I am running, my symptoms actually improve. In my opinion, running is also the best antidepressant. Marathons and half-marathons give a great sense of accomplishment. It is a good feeling to not allow PD to limit what I can do. It was also wonderful to have so much support on the course — to run by cheering friends, family and team members.

Q. Can you tell us about the challenges you experienced during the marathon, and any that are specific to being a marathoner with PD?
A. Marathoners always talk about ‘hitting the wall’ and I certainly did, around mile 18. The last eight miles were particularly painful. In terms of PD, I have to be very careful in the timing of my medications, and invariably, at some point, I experience PD symptoms and have to medicate. I carry some of my meds with me on the course. In my everyday life, I basically can’t move in the morning until my pills begin to work, and I experience “wearing off” intermittently.

Q. How do you feel about being a person with PD in a marathon, where most runners may not face the same obstacles that you do?
A. Proud! I think that when people with PD run a marathon, it raises awareness of PD and among many people, reminds them that not everyone with PD is limited to a wheelchair or to certain activities. I am open about what I have and proud of the things that I can do to defy it, or despite it.

Q. How has your life changed since you began running?
A. Running these races has taught me to be a lot less self-conscious about my PD and how it affects my gait. Before I started running, I didn’t want anybody to notice my symptoms. I wouldn’t tell anyone that I had PD and I tried to hide it. The marathon and half-marathon races and training runs helped change that. I also feel very good about the money I’ve raised to help fund Parkinson’s research.

To learn more about exercise and PD, view a session that was presented by Dr. Michael Zigmond and Dr. Giselle Petzinger at PDF’s 50th Anniversary Educational Symposium

If you are thinking of beginning an exercise program, consult with your physician first to make sure that it is safe.