Alex Flynn is a lawyer, public speaker and endurance athlete who is facing his incurable suffering head-on.
Flynn suffers from early-onset Parkinson’s disease but he plans to traverse 3,500 miles across the continental United States in his Trans America Challenge, an attempt to run, kayak, cycle and swim as part of his 10 million metres campaign and £1 million fundraiser for Parkinson’s research.
His disease is an incurable degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, threatening to take away his ability to move which he describes as being encased in concrete.
Flynn describes his condition, “It is the worse thing that has ever happened to me in my life. But, the disease has also enabled me to channel my energies and focus more on my family, health and keeping positive. I am trying to channel negativity to create positive outcomes…which is why I am raising funds and awareness in the Trans America Challenge. I know there are a lot of people worse off than me and I have to do something.”
That he certainly is.
And it is certainly not easy. “One of my legs doesn’t move when I swim. Plus, the Trans America Challenge includes a final swim in New York Harbor when I will swim to the Statue of Liberty. But to be honest with you, I have a huge fear of water, a morbid fear of water, I am absolutely scared; it goes back to when I was 5. I nearly drowned at my friend’s pool. I fell in the deep end and panicked. But then things become warm and I became calm. I remember flowers as calm came over me. But it was my friend’s mother who was in a floral dress and who dove in to save me.”
Now Flynn is giving back, in a big way.
“For the Trans America Challenge, I have teamed up with Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research that has funneled more than US$289 million into Parkinson’s disease research (with 87 cents of every dollar going directly to vital research towards a cure). It is a wonderful organization and I am honored to be part of TeamFox.
I want to do the Trans America Challenge in under 30 days. I want to climb Mt Whitney and run the entire length of Death Valley (135 miles). I am going to cycle across the Midwest and kayak Lake Erie towards the end. But at the end in New York I will face my fears. The Trans America Challenge will end by swimming to the Statue of Liberty. I am nervous and that is a good thing. I think it is good to be slightly nervous and cautious.
Ian Clarke of Orca describes their support of Flynn’s traverse across America, “I feel that the challenge which Alex has set himself, shows a person who is pushing their limits and excelling. At Orca we aim to provide products which allow people to do this, so supporting Alex is a pleasure.”
But at the end of the day, I cannot thank all my sponsors enough. Without their help and assistance the Trans America Challenge would be impossible. For example, I would not be able get across America without a support team, and they cannot get across without sponsors like Volkswagen. Within 5 minutes of me phoning them Volkswagen signed up and donated two vehicles to get across the United States. They were more than generous and supportive. Volkswagen enabled this to become a team effort. I will make it.”
No doubt, he will.
Follow Flynn’s progress here.
Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source