Team Rowland holds cycling event to fight Parkinson’s disease

Published 12:12 pm Monday, September 26, 2022

By LIZZIE BOWEN | Staff Writer

PELHAM – Team Rowland, an organization that works to fight against Parkinson’s disease, held a cycling event to raise funds for its cause and make a difference in the community.

On Saturday, Sept. 24 from 8 a.m. to Noon, Team Rowland held its annual cycling event at Oak Mountain State Park to bring awareness and raise funds for Parkinson’s disease.

Team Rowland is partnered with the Michael J. Fox Foundation which is an organization named after actor Michael J. Fox who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1998.

In 2014, Mike Rowland was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and left unsure of what to do next.

“It all started when I was diagnosed in 2014,” Rowland said. “My parents were looking for a way to fight back. They signed up for a bike ride in South Carolina and asked us to come ride with them. We all bought bicycles, trained, and we ended up with 20 friends and family, and we raised $60,000.”

The Team Rowland Foundation has seen a lot of success in the past few years.

“It has grown every year,” Rowland said. “More family, friends, strangers and work colleagues are coming. It has taken on a life of its own.”

 All the money raised goes back into research for Parkinson’s disease.

“Our six-year total, when all the checks are written and all the money is counted, will be approaching 1 million dollars,” Rowland said. “The money goes straight to research. Most of it goes to research through the Michael J. Fox Foundation, but we also contribute to the Parkinson’s Association of Alabama. It is to improve the lives of patients in Alabama. Everyone who is in a support group or anybody affiliated with the P.A.A. benefits from this ride.”

Riders were able to partake in a 10K, 5K or a one-mile walk.

“We call the one-mile walk the ‘Roll and Stroll,’ and we started it this year when our first grandchild arrived,” Rowland said. “So, there is something for everybody.”

Although Rowland was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2014, his first time partaking in the cycling event was in 2017, as it took him some time to come to terms with the disease.

“It took me three years to admit it to anybody,” Rowland said. “It went from something that was a secret burden to something that we could publicize and use for good. You hear it all the time, God uses evil for good. In this case, that’s what we are doing. We are turning something horrible into something good.”

Many people were in attendance to show their support for those living with Parkinson’s disease.

“We have patients here, we have folks that are on the Parkinson’s board with us and we have some folks from the Michael J. Fox Foundation from New York,” Rowland said. “We have folks around the Birmingham area that are affected by this disease and want to fight back. It is a good way to just fight.”

Rowland hopes to bring a change for future generations.

“That is what we do and why we do it,” Rowland said. “So that our kids won’t have to go through what we’ve gone through.”

More information about Team Rowland and how to raise funds for research on Parkinson’s disease, can be found at Teamrowland.org or Michaeljfox.org.