YUMA, Ariz. - Parkinson's disease is a long-term chronic disease that affects the central nervous system. One Chicago-area man isn't letting his diagnosis define him and is on an extraordinary journey across America to raise awareness.
Bill Bucklew, of Wilmette, Ill., made his way through the Desert Southwest Thursday, just one destination in his months-long journey.
“To be honest, nobody thought I could do this," Bucklew said.
Bucklew plans to prove everyone wrong. He is in the middle of a 2,503-mile long walk, starting his trip from Georgia and ending in San Diego, all to raise funds and educate others about the disease.
“The real goal of the trip for me is to interact with people who have Parkinson’s disease… or have Parkinson’s disease in their friends, families, or lives,” Bucklew added.
In 2012, at 43-years-old, Bucklew was diagnosed officially with Parkinson's disease. However, symptoms started years before. His father and grandfather also were diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
Bucklew is attempting to walk close to two marathons a day.
“Trying to do a marathon and a half… roughly 40-39 miles a day,” Bucklew added.
Taking it day by day and step by step, Bucklew is determined to find a cure which affects more than 200,000 people a year in the United States.
Though he can't run well anymore, he can still walk.
“Exercise is great for Parkinson’s… it’s the one thing people feel confident that can actually slow the progression. There’s no real cure, right? There’s no other way to do it,” Bucklew added.
Beverly Ribaudo, a local resident, who has been living with Parkinson's disease for more than 20 years, met up with Bill Bucklew to walk along with him. She said Bill's journey is motivating to other's who live with Parkinson's disease.
“I find it very inspiring because he’s out there doing something… I’m not saying you have to get out and run a marathon or you have to walk 2,500 miles like Bill’s doing, but if you just get off your behind and walk around the neighborhood, it’s the only thing proven to slow down the progression of this disease,” Ribaudo said.
Ribaudo even published a book on Parkinson's disease and gifted her book to Bill to take along with him on his journey.
Bill Bucklew and his team walked through Yuma County on Thursday, as they make their final stride to San Diego. He has about 200 more miles to go.
The people he meets along the way, keep him going.
“This whole trip is building connections, working together, I expect that many of these connections I’ve built on this trip will last a lifetime, and we’ll work together to find a cure and that’s what’s really going to matter,” Bucklew said.
Bucklew also has a non-for-profit organization "Uncorked Adventures" and is raising funds for the Michael J. Fox Foundation to help the fight against Parkinson's.
If you want to follow Bill during his final stride to San Diego, you can follow his live GPS, click here.
You can also visit their Facebook page.