Anthony Climbed Above Parkinson’s Disease for 740 Days

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6 years 8 months

Following the untimely death of his Dad from Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 59, Anthony set out to honor his Father’s memory and bring awareness and support to Parkinson’s Disease.  The journey he chose- climbing the Seven Summits of the World (the highest mountain on each continent)- made certain to cut out his work in advance for him.  Since first accomplished in 1984, only a handful of people (approximately 2,500 to date) have achieved the audacious goal.  Anthony felt compelled to make his challenge even harder, taking on the chore with minimal to no assistance, and operating in the most minimal fashion possible.  His Dad would have been proud of the effort, and Anthony wanted to demonstrate that anything was possible. 

Anthony grew up in a military family. “My father was a disciplinarian, but he showed the right kind of love,” Anthony said. “My father held the family together. He was the glue and I admired him quite a bit for his role as our provider.” Anthony’s discipline in life has paid off. He’s always maintained a rigorous exercise routine and has worked hard in pursuit of educational and professional objectives as well.   

Anthony’s father began experiencing PD symptoms at 48 and was diagnosed at 52, around the same time Anthony’s mother passed away from cancer. Over the next seven years, he saw his father’s health decline, mostly due to maintaining poor daily habits and not getting regular exercise or eating healthy — all things that don’t improve PD symptoms.  Anthony became his father’s caregiver during the last three years of his life, attending to his Parkinson’s needs and subsequently, dementia. Anthony remembers holding his father’s hand until his final moments. “I’m sad I don’t get to share a life with him as I go forward,” Anthony said.  

On November 26, 2017, less than one year following the death of his Dad, Anthony stood on the summit of Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa.  From here, over the next 2 years and 10 days (740 Days), Anthony would stand on the highest peaks of the world.  In order of success following Kilimanjaro- the highest peak in South America (Aconcagua- January 3, 2018), the highest peak in North America (Denali- June 4, 2018), the highest peak in Europe (Elbrus- September 6, 2018), the highest peak in Australia (Puncak Jaya- January 1, 2019), the highest peak in Asia/the World (Mount Everest- Mary 16, 2019), and the highest peak in Antarctica (Vinson Massif- December 3, 2019).  Following this final summit, Anthony completed the journey and honored his Father.  He also raised close to $40,000.00 for research and treatment of PD.

In preparation for these climbs, Anthony trained in a variety of different ways.  He has always been an avid mountain climber, and keeps his fitness to a level where he can “run a marathon off the couch” at any given time.  As he worked full-time while training, he had to force the training into odd hours- before work, during lunch, or late in the evening.  He fully understood and appreciated what a key role exercise could play in a person’s everyday life, especially for a person living with PD, and to this day still trains competitively.

Anthony sees climbing as a metaphor for managing Parkinson’s or helping a loved one fight it. “Mountain climbing is an endeavor that is all about your mind and ability to accomplish something that seems not accomplishable,” he said. “It requires your own two feet — you can’t get to the top of these mountains without your own determination and focus.” Similar to his experiences witnessing his father fight Parkinson’s.  Each of the seven summits involved its own unique challenges and rewards: every hike has its own season, specific logistical and technical obstacles. His climbs took as much physical effort as they did mental, not unlike the obstacles Parkinson’s can present to a person and their family.

Anthony hopes his campaign and success will motivate others with Parkinson’s to fight this disease, take care of their health, and find hope and perseverance when something seems impossible. 

 

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