Welcome to Shifting Gears for Parkinson's
|Please note: The trip is temporarily interrupted due to a death in the family and will resume in May.|
In March 2017, Paul Gully and Lois Leslie departed on what was supposed to be an eighteen month long cycling trip from Lisbon, Portugal to Auckland, New Zealand, raising awareness and funds for Parkinson’s disease. They intended to cycle from Portugal across three continents to New Zealand to complete a circumnavigation of the globe by bicycle, an extended journey that began with their cycle across Canada in 2013. Their route was to take them through southern Europe, across Turkey and the Caucasus, India, South-east Asia, China, South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
(Pictured above: Lois & Paul)
However, on May 10, 2017, the trip came to an unexpected halt. While cycling from Sanremo on the Via Aurelia, Italy, Paul was hit by a car from behind, suffering a cracked vertebra, broken ribs, pneumothoraces, numerous cuts and abrasions and severe nerve pain in his shoulders and arms. Fortunately, due to the fantastic care of the trauma team in Pietra Ligure (and Lois’ love!), Paul began a difficult but steady recovery that continued after the couple arrived back in Vancouver. Remarkably, despite some persistent nerve pain, he is already resuming his exercise regime!
Paul and Lois did not let this stop them; they are returning to Italy in October to continue the trip and will spend a month there before heading further east in Europe, without their bikes for the time being. They will merely be “shifting gears” as they embark on foot and by public transportation, but hope to be back on their bikes again in Australia and New Zealand!
This trek is just another challenge taken on by this enthusiastic and determined couple, a public health physician and human rights lawyer, who originally met while providing medical services in Africa, have worked in Canada’s Arctic, raised two children, worked for international agencies in Europe, and for whom retirement is an opportunity to combine an active involvement in professional interests, while exploring the world.
Paul and Lois decided that this extended trip should be used to draw attention to Parkinson’s Disease. This has been inspired by a close friend of Lois’ since childhood, Marg de Grace, who has been living with Parkinson’s for more than 25 years. It was agreed among Lois, Paul, Marg and her husband Allan, that any funds raised in connection with this global trip should be directed towards Parkinson Society British Columbia. Marg notes that “many people have benefitted from the programs and research funded by PSBC [and] it would be great to enhance local resources”. As a portion of the funds will be dedicated to research, fundraising will benefit people living with Parkinson’s anywhere.
As they travel, Lois and Paul are endeavouring to highlight regional issues relating to Parkinson’s disease. While Paul and Lois are away, Marg and Allan will be fundraising and building awareness efforts back home in Vancouver.