Every year Dick Field invites his family on an adventure. “We try to take all our grandchildren to interesting places,” Dick said. Their adventures took on a new meaning — and some modifications — when Dick was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD).
After going to Africa, the family set their sights on Iceland in 2017, where icy terrain proved to be challenging. “It was a difficult trip and I could not complete the journey,” Dick said. So, in 2018, Dick better prepared himself physically and invited the family to join him in southern Spain, for a hike — with a purpose.
Full of history and culture, Dick challenged each of his family members to climb the Rock of Gibraltar, together "I will give the Parkinson's Foundation a thousand dollars for each of you who make it to the top," Dick told his children and six grandchildren. Everyone was motivated and ready to go.
Dick prepared by timing his medication and packing his walking stick. When traveling with six children, there was a steady supply of snacks. He also planned his path. “There are two sides of the climb, one is a sheer drop and one is a more gradual climb, like climbing the lower part of the Rockies," Dick said. "Guess what side our family selected?”
From eight years old to 78, the family of 12 began their ascent. "We arrived early so that we had the climb to ourselves," he said.
“It was a beautiful day and the Mediterranean was sparkling blue,” he said. The Field family set their own pace, stopping to meet a variety of interesting groups along the way. “The climb attracts so many types of people my grandchildren were able to meet,” he said.
It took four hours to reach the 1,388-foot elevation. “I felt elated when I got to the top,” he said. “Elated that I’m still able to do this kind of stuff.” From the top they were able to see Morocco, Spain and France. The family took it in and began their descent, making memories and taking photos along the way.
Dick’s grandchildren are no strangers to Parkinson’s, as another close family member is also living with PD. “They are all aware of Parkinson’s disease and knew it’s why we were climbing,” Dick said. “They now all have a newfound sense of different ways you can contribute to a non-profit.”
Serving as a Parkinson’s Foundation board member since 2013, Dick believes in the Foundation and has both helped and received help from the Foundation.
“Many People who have been diagnosed don’t know what to do,” he said. “Simultaneously, many movement disorder specialists don’t have the time or inclination to take deep dives with their patients to discuss this disease. At the Foundation, we’re setting new standards to help more people, especially through our Centers of Excellence, which provide a detailed action plan for managing your disease.”
“The focus of the Foundation is cure and care. Everyone who works at or together with the Foundation is on the right track, coming together to further Parkinson’s research,” Dick said.
Dick and his family are now setting their sight on a new adventure in 2019. He won’t let his Parkinson’s slow him down.
Like the Field’s family, if you are interested in raising awareness for the Parkinson’s Foundation through a Do-It-Yourself fundraiser learn more and Parkinson.org/Champions.