From now through 9/22, every donation made through my NYC Marathon Team Fox Fundraising Page will be matched dollar-for-dollar by an awesomely generous (anonymous) donor! 

Ever since meeting Michael J. Fox when I was on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2002, I’ve vowed to find a way to Pay It Forward; “it” being the inspiration & motivation that Michael J. Fox provided to transform the way I viewed life with illness & (dis)ability.  I’ve tried many times to gain entry as a member of Team Fox, and now it’s finally happened. Please, help me make a Texas-sized Pay It Forward difference with my participation in the handcycling division of the 2015 NYC Marathon.  I want to cross that Finish Line on November 1st with the belief that Michael J. Fox would be proud of my live-action Thank You & everything that got me across that Finish Line: both my hard-won training & the incredible generosity of all the big-hearted donors to Team Fox in my name.


(Yeah, I know, I suck at selfie-taking. AND my service dog Luke looks as if he’s sniffing my armpit. #ThanksLuke)

Here’s a long-overdue update on my training:


Decent weather (& mostly-decent health) providing, I’ve been swimming 4 -5 miles a week & cycling 30 – 50 miles a week.  (I also do hand weights 2-3x a week, and mat-based Pilates every day.)


Which may not sound like a lot to the average athlete-in-training-for-a-big-event – but, trust me, is quite the “comeback” given where I was health-wise & fitness-ability-wise this time last year, as well as the year before that (when the not-so-mostly-healthy started in earnest).

In fact, I remember the exact week my health began to significantly go downhill.  It was on my trip to Witchita Falls, TX, where I’d planned to ride the Hotter N’ Hell 100 with some challenged athlete friends I know from Ride Ataxia.  It was the weekend of my birthday, end of August 2013.

2013 Hotter N Hell 100

I was in more pain than usual during the long drive up there.  And while I was excited to see friends I hadn’t seen in a long time & was thrilled to see all the wonderful stuff at the cycling expo, my energy levels just wouldn’t (couldn’t, it seemed) rise to the occasion. My pain & fatigue felt about 3X the usual; I remember feeling out of breath & hearing a noticeable wheeze when I exhaled; my allergies & usual sensitivities were hyper-reactive.  I attempted to remedy the pain & exhaustion with rest & sleep, but it just didn’t seem to make a difference.  On the morning of the ride, the heat & humidity affected me so severely that merely dressing, then unloading & readying my trike & gear in the parking lot of the event completely undid me.  I never even made it to the starting line of the Hotter N’ Hell 100.  Which was a huge disappointment given that the challenge of the ride – and sharing it with my challenged athlete triking buddies – was the way I’d been counting on celebrating my birthday.

My health went into a downward spiral that lasted almost 2 years.  My immune system went haywire.  I had an MS exacerbation.  I had two bad falls (sprained + tiny fracture of ankle, then hairline fracture of elbow).

dread black boot


Somehow, from wearing the dreaded black boot & the added strain, I tweaked my already-bad knee …


And then I had a crisis/hospitalization due to Hashimoto’s (autoimmune thyroid disease).

hospital stay2

Which, up to now, has still not been thoroughly sorted out & continues to present difficulties & questions that the so-called “best” endocrinologist in the Greater Houston Area cannot address.  Yay.

So, for over a year & 1/2 there were many days that I was “lucky” to be averaging between 100 – 300 steps a day.  A far cry from the 10 miles a week I was used to walking, the mile swims 5/6 times a week, and 75 – 100 miles cycled in the average weeks prior to August of 2013.  But, hey, I always say: I’m the Queen of Square One!

It’s been a long road to recovery, but I’m hoping & praying that I’ll be able to keep swimming & cycling – if not at the level I was before August of 2013, at least at the level I am now.  For a while there, I wasn’t sure I’d ever swim another lap or ride another mile again; so this level of swimming & cycling actually feels like a minor miracle, for which I’m incredibly grateful.

I’m still not back to walking – I cannot even walk the dogs around the block – because of my knee injury & the increasing damage that would be done with more weight bearing activity.  But after I cross the Finish Line of the 2015 NYC Marathon as the proudest member of Team Fox, I’ll give in & let the ortho doc do the exploratory on my knee joint to get a closer look at what needs fixing. (Yay?)

Till then, I’m focused on putting all of my “everything” into my training so that I can give Team Fox every single ounce of energy that I have.  Please, Please, PLEASE support my efforts; it means so much to me to raise as much money & awareness as I possibly can for Michael j. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research!!!

With gratitude, for all of your encouragement, shout-outs & donations,

Denise – AKA Queen of Square One, AKA Proudest Team Fox Member EVER