Having been in the car industry for several decades — blending cars and camaraderie has always been something of second nature – but when I lost my Mom to Parkinson’s in 2006, I realized there were meaningful ways to share friendships and the emotional bonds and gratification that driving can bring, to support the challenges others may face.
Drive Toward a Cure has been a real vision for me and creating our inaugural drive in the year my mom would have turned 90, and with a decade since her passing, was one of the most meaningful ways I could honor her and those in our profession and throughout the world, that have pushed to succeed despite their condition.
I’m hopeful Drive Toward a Cure can be the start of much more than a scenic journey – by taking these roads less traveled together, we can start a movement that begins with awareness and leads to a cure.
For this first inaugural event, we learned that legendary racers like Phil Hill, David Love and Sam Posey are not the only individuals challenged by Parkinson’s Disease that have enjoyed a good drive! The Drive Toward a Cure ‘California Adventure’ charity rally included 36 entrants vehicles, ranging from vintage to exotics and modern day luxury cars that took on nearly 600 miles of scenic California roads — but it wasn’t just the drive itself that made it meaningful.
The moment that stood out the most to me was our first evening dinner at the Allegretto Vineyard Resort in Paso Robles, when I turned the tables on the group and asked all to say why they’d come – listening to those that really appreciated supporting the cause, and especially the few there that had Parkinson’s themselves, really touched my heart and let me know we were on the right pathway. Drive Toward a Cure was becoming more than my vision – it was fostering hope, and that to me made it all worthwhile.
In the beginning, I was pretty scared that once we planned it all no one would register – but when our very first entrant happened to have Parkinson’s and was bringing his 1960 Porsche 356 Super 90 (only my very favorite vintage car ever!)…I felt the stars had truly aligned and karma was on my side – and there was no way I could disappoint him!
And more so, he didn’t disappoint me — not only was he willing to talk to press prior, he reached out to his vintage racing friends and had them sign up too — and his encouragement was contagious – so contagious that he was awarded the very first “Spirit of Drive Toward a Cure” award – in recognition of his own spirit which never deterred despite the challenge of Parkinson’s. He received a framed illustration of his racing car created especially for him by artist and friend Paul Chenard who contributed all the way from Halifax (Automobiliart)
And there were other meaningful moments as well — in fact, two of the individuals that happened to have ‘early onset’ Parkinson’s and had never met each other before, were both speaking the exact same mission statement — noting that each could go forward in their life and remain active due to “hope” — with both stating that such hope was derived through programs like this.
Derek Torry was with me from the beginning – he’s a new friend I met through the Parkinson’s Institute and he’s one of the bravest and kindest guys I know. He was excited about our program from Day One and it was his faith in what we could create that allowed our ideas to become reality — by introducing us to other professionals that led to our becoming a bonafide C-corporation and opening the doors to what we envision will lead us into our long-term goal of a true 501 (c ) 3 foundation — but that will be in due time.
So for now, it’s about gaining awareness, putting our pedal to the mettle as they say, and opening ourselves to new risks that we hope bring rewards. The amount of support we’ve garnered in the automotive community alone has been heartwarming — organizations like Hagerty, Sports Car Market Magazine, Intelliga Communications and McLaren Automotive, all believed — and another 30 followed on their heels. Yes, when they say it takes a village, I can’t tell you how proud I am that an entire city came forth.
As we tally our financials and finalize the follow-up with our new-found friends and partners, we are challenged to begin to create new traditions so our efforts in some small way can make an impact — toward more awareness, toward more research and toward more possibilities to bring hope to those that need it most.
Here’s to finding a cure along the way.