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Gwen's Dopey Challenge Fundraising Page

Gwen Franks

Gwen Franks

I started running in graduate school as a means of dealing with the stress of academic pressures and a dying father. The constants in my life were school, an uncertain future for my father, and my solid, kind, loving mother. At that time, I felt closer to my father, but looking back I think I funneled energy into that relationship knowing that it wouldn't be around forever. My relationship with my mother, on the other hand, felt like there was time to foster it -- later.

Just a few years after my father died, my mother was diagnosed with Parkinson's.

I spent most of my childhood and young adulthood with the knowledge that my chronically ill father would not likely live into his own golden years. But I didn't think much about my mother's. I can be a good daughter and do everything to enjoy every moment with her. But this is also my opportunity to contribute (in even the smallest way) to the scientific efforts to improve my mother's quality of life going forward.

Research into the origins and treatments for Parkinson's Disease has progressed so much in the last few decades, but there is so much more to learn.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation has been a huge part of the progress we've already seen and the promise of future developments.

I am running the Dopey Challenge at Disney World in January for a few reasons. First, the challenge of running a few miles (or a few dozen) pales in comparison to the medical challenges my parents have lived with grace through. If I can do some good for the larger Parkinson's community by pounding out 50 miles, I am happy to do it! Second, I want (need) to find my own way to contribute to the understanding of Parkinson's and the development of diagnostics and treatments for the disease.

I firmly believe that an understanding of Parkinson's will lead to an understanding of all brain diseases. We need the spark and this is one way we can be a part of it.

So help me contribute to the cause and the cure!

Here's what we know:

An estimated five million people worldwide live with Parkinson's today. It is the second most common neurological disorder. In the United States, approximately 60,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year alone. There is no known cure.

Together, we can change this.

Team Fox is the grassroots community fundraising program at The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF). MJFF accelerates high-impact science through smart risk-taking and problem solving with a commitment to urgency and efficiency. I’m one of the thousands of people around the globe who are turning their passions into Team Fox fundraisers to help them speed a cure for Parkinson’s.

When you give to the MJFF through my Dopey Challenge site, 100% of Team Fox proceeds go straight to MJFF’s programmatic efforts!

Thank you for being part of this team and for providing me with even more inspiration!

If you want to keep track of my progress, I'm documenting it in my blog:



raised of $5,000 goal

Recent Donations

1. VVern
2. JFJames & Anna Franks
3. JCJulie Carignan
Go Gwen! Love to you and your mom and family.
4. BDBrenda Dawson
In loving memory of Grandpa Cherry
5. KPKathleen Pfeiffer
Still so proud of you!
6. LLLisa Lindsay
Go girl!! Cheering for you and so proud of you and your hard work!!