Man fights back against Parkinson's with 2450km mission

PEDAL POWER: Adelaide businessman Kevin Weeks cycled into Rockhampton on Saturday after pedalling more than 2450 kilometres from Adelaide to raise money for a cycling program for people living with Parkinson's disease.
PEDAL POWER: Adelaide businessman Kevin Weeks cycled into Rockhampton on Saturday after pedalling more than 2450 kilometres from Adelaide to raise money for a cycling program for people living with Parkinson's disease. Contributed

IT would be a struggle for any normal cyclist to ride 2450km, let alone a 67-year-old man with Parkinson's disease.

An Adelaide businessman, Kevin Weeks, cycled into Rockhampton on Saturday after pedalling more than 2450 kilometres from Adelaide to raise money for a cycling program for people living with Parkinson's disease.

Mr Weeks, the founder and managing director of The Weeks Group of companies in South Australia, was diagnosed with the condition in 2013.

He cycles to help manage his symptoms and is passionate about promoting the benefits of cycling to others with the condition.

Parkinson's is a chronic, progressive neurodegenerative condition that currently has no known cure. About 12,000 Australians are diagnosed with the disease each year.

Mr Weeks left Adelaide on May 27 and has cycled an average of 125km per day (with some rest days), and is being supported by his wife Val driving alongside him in their RV trailer.

His goal is to raise money for Parkinson's South Australia to help create a cycling program for people with differing movement and physical abilities, which would be rolled out nationally.

The program would include stationary tandem bikes, regular exercise bikes and a theracycle, a motor- ised bike designed for people with Parkinson's who are unable to cycle unassisted.

"I'm doing this to raise money so that other people living with Parkinson's, but without the ability to ride out on the open road, can have the opportunity to feel as good as I do from cycling,” Mr Weeks said.

"When I'm riding two things happen - I forget about my Parkinson's and I actually feel like my symptoms, such as my tremor, improve.”

Clinical evidence has shown that cycling - particularly vigorous cycling at high cadence (80-90 RPM) for 45 minutes, three times a week, can lead to an improvement in symptoms.

Researchers at the Uni- versity of Southern Califor- nia looked at the brains of mice that had exercised under conditions parallel to a human treadmill study.

They found that exercising changed neither the amount of dopamine nor the amount of neurons in the animal's brains. But in the mice that had exercised, the brain cells were using dopamine more efficiently. In fact, the study found that the brain reshapes itself throughout life in response to experience. Scientists call this ability to change and compensate, experience- dependent neuroplasticity.

In 2015, Mr Weeks cycled 800km over six days from Apollo Bay in Victoria to Victor Harbor in South Australia with a team of 19 riders in a version of the international Pedal for Parkinson's charity concept, raising more than $230,000 for Summit4Stemcell.

So far, Kevin has raised more than $15,470 on his solo journey from Adelaide to Rockhampton.

To see Kevin's journey or to make a donation to the cause, go to www.weeks onwheels.everydayhero .com/au/kevin-weeks.

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