When Chris Woods, an avid cyclist, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 41, the mission of the Woods family, with his 73 year old mom, Edna, leading the charge, was to find a cycling event that raised money specifically for Parkinson’s research. For years Chris had been riding in the 150 mile Diabetes ride and the 150 mile MS ride but had never heard of one for PD. After much research, it became clear that there was nothing in the country, let alone the New England area, so the family decided to organize their own!
The New England Parkinson’s Ride took shape in the summer of 2008, and linked up with Team Fox at The Michael J Fox Foundation. Although we had only 35 riders that first year, we managed to raise over $27,000 for The Foundation. We started with a 30, 50, and 100 mile loop, with 10 rest stops manned by volunteers along the way, and added a 10 mile route in 2009, to accommodate younger families and less experienced cyclists. All routes begin and end at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, and travel through the countryside and shoreline of beautiful southern Maine.
The Ride has grown at an incredible rate over the past ten years and in 2018 drew 1097 cyclists, from 27 states and 3 provinces of Canada, as well as more than 250 volunteers. The hard work and dedication of our cyclists and volunteers resulted in a 25% increase in fundraising, bringing in over $1,107,536 in 2018 alone! That also put us at over $4.5 million in cumulative donations to MJFF since the inception of the Ride.
For 5 years in a row, the New England Parkinson’s Ride has been honored by Michael J. Fox himself as the largest independent single-day fundraising event for Team Fox in the entire country!
Michael J Fox thanks the New England Parkinson’s Ride – September 2017:
Watch a personal thank you from Michael when we hit the $1 million dollar mark:
Although our primary goal is to raise funds and awareness for Parkinson’s Disease, we like to think of our event as a “weekend at the beach, with a ride thrown in for fun”. Riders of all ages and abilities are welcome so it can become a wonderful family tradition or a weekend away with your cycling buddies. We now have entertainment, concessions, vendors, even showers at The Ballpark, so it’s a great way to spend a day, even if you’re just a spectator. Although all rides are completed in one day, there are many hotels in the area where friends and family can stay and play. Many of them offer discounted rates to those participating in the Ride (see Accommodations).
In addition, we offer a Pre-Ride Dinner on Friday night, where cyclists can socialize and check-in ahead of time for the morning’s ride. This is a fun-filled family event, complete with music, raffles, presentations, and an all around good time! Information on reservations for the Pre-Ride dinner is sent out to all registered riders and volunteers as we get closer to the Ride!
Our founders: Edna and Bob Woods
The New England Parkinson’s Ride obtained our 501(c)(3) status as a charitable organization in March of 2013 and, with the exception of the Director, is run exclusively by volunteers. We are extremely grateful to our SPONSORS, as we rely solely on those dollars and registration fees for all operational expenses of The New England Parkinson’s Ride.