DES MOINES, IA - Rich Mills is a bike geek and proud of it. He's taking his geek to the streets by bicycling from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. for Parkinson disease awareness and research. He's named his journey "Shakey Tracks: My Ride Across America with Parkinson's." Mills, 58, was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2009, but he has not let that get in the way of his passion.
"The bicycle is perfect for me. It is environmentally friendly and it allows me to interact with people and places. Listening to people's stories and sharing my own magnifies this short existence on Earth. To see the sunrise after a night of camping along rivers is a thrill that must be experienced," says Mills.
During his 3-month journey, he plans to get signatures on petitions that advocate for stem cell research and additional funding for research. He is going to present this petition to the Congressional Caucus on Parkinson's Disease in Washington, D.C. The Caucus consists of Representatives and Senators who formed to create more awareness about Parkinson disease on Capitol Hill.
"I am making this trip for several reasons. I want to do this trip while I am still able to, and I want to meet others impacted by Parkinson's to share tears and laughter with them. Mostly, I'm doing this for myself. I feel the best on a bike. Riding makes my body stronger, sharing stories with others strengthens my resolve and the fundraising and awareness rushes us toward a cure for Parkinson's. That gives me hope," says Mills.
During this trek across America, Mills is raising money for the Michael J. Fox Research Foundation and the Iowa Chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association, for which funds will support educational and exercise programs in the state of Iowa.
Mills is a lifelong bicycle enthusiast, and a retired Internet service provider from Winterset, IA. His journey from San Francisco to Washington D.C. is by the far the longest journey he has done, though he has made several impressive trips including one down the Mississippi River and several across the state of Iowa. Currently, he sustains his passion by volunteering at the Des Moines Bicycle Coalition. The Coalition is a nonprofit organization that rebuilds and restores donated bikes to give and sell them back into the community.
Supporting Mills' journey can be done in several ways: share your story with him, provide lodging and a shower along the way or arrange a time to ride with Mills for a leg of the journey if you're a bicyclist or part of a bike club.
Visit his website, www.richmills.us, to sign the petition, donate money to the organizations he is representing and see where he is at on his journey.
His trip will begin on July 31 and Mills anticipates reaching Washington, D.C. by the end of October.