A friend of Gwen Schroeder once told her: “Don’t cheer from the sidelines if you can run the race.”
So when her father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Gwen laced up her shoes.
A post-production manager who works in New York City for the TED Conferences, Gwen signed up to run a marathon to raise money for the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
Since that first marathon Gwen has run in three more, even strapping a camera to her head as part of the effort. In the process she has raised over $20,000 for Parkinson’s research.
Not content with just fundraising on her own, Gwen has also joined clinical trials for Parkinson’s research and become a mentor for Team Fox, the grassroots fundraising arm of the Michael J Fox Foundation. On top of all that, Gwen signed up with 23andMe specifically to help in the company’s Parkinson’s Research Community.
“For a while, I avoided even thinking about sending a kit off,” she said about testing. “But the more I considered it, the more I felt like this was a tiny step towards a greater understanding of Parkinson’s disease. My participation could someday help another family. So, I took a deep breath, spit into the little jar and sent it off.”
But once she decided to test, Gwen said her concerns evaporated.
“Once I made the decision to do it I was fine,” she said.
That didn’t mean she wasn’t curious about what she would learn, but much more comfortable with it. And for Gwen what was most important was helping the Parkinson’s community.
“The knowledge that I’ve furthered research makes everything I’ve learned about my genes far less scary.”