Parkinson's sufferer rides for his own peace of mind

People need to know about Parkinson's Disease, says sufferer and motor bike enthusiast John Stockwell. John is riding around Australia to raise funds and awareness for PD.

People need to know about Parkinson's Disease, says sufferer and motor bike enthusiast John Stockwell. John is riding around Australia to raise funds and awareness for PD.

John Stockwell set off in February on his Ducati.

John Stockwell set off in February on his Ducati.

YOU meet some amazing and inspiring people in this job and this week has been no exception.

There are people you interview and it becomes obvious their story will stay with you for a long time to come John Stockwell is one of those people.

I had the pleasure of meeting John on Wednesday morning, during his stay in the area as part of his ride around Australia for Parkinson's Disease.

Although one of the first things you notice about John is the uncontrollable shaking that is slowly taking over his body, by the time our conversation is finished it is his wisdom, warmth and undeniable commitment to his cause that masks the disease completely.

A motorbike enthusiast, John doesn't own a car, instead choosing two wheels as his mode of transport.

For many years he has been involved in the promotion and marketing for some of Australia's best racers, including the 'Baylisstic' Troy Bayliss team, which is how he met Wallabi Point local Dave Edwards.

The pair have remained firm friends after a chance encounter at Phillip Island in the early 2000s and Dave and wife Sue were more than happy to help John on his current adventure.

Friends and contacts in the motor industry have come on board to help John on his trip, sponsoring everything from tyres and servicing of his bike, while his employer from Adelaide is generously providing him with an income while he's away.

It was a tingling in his fingertips about three years ago that rang alarm bells for John and when other signs arose in the following months, he self-diagnosed Parkinson's.

It would be a year or so before he would see a doctor, who would confirm what he had thought all along and together it was decided that John would steer clear of medication.

"The doctor said if you can put up with a bit of shaking then don't worry about the meds," explains John who considers himself one of the lucky ones.

"PD affects everybody quite differently, and in that respect I'm one of the fortunate ones because I have still been able to work and now I'm doing this."

'This' is John's national tour that he has committed to, to raise awareness and increase the public profile for Parkinson's Disease, while continuing to raise funds for further research.

At the start of his journey in February, John set his target at $15,000 and as of this week contributions were well over $25,000.

But as John continually pointed out on Wednesday, "it's not about the money."

"Financial support is great, but I'm doing this because everywhere you go there's a fundraiser or an ad for cancer and that's great but how many people are aware of PD and what it does," says John.

On his travels he has met some amazing people and has been overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness extended to him by complete strangers, be it through the extended motorbike fraternity, other Parkinson's sufferers or new friends.

He has been able to reach remote towns, speak at community meetings and without a doubt he will have connected with every person he has come into contact with so far, just as he did me.

"I just refuse to sit at home and do nothing," says John.

"People need to know about Parkinson's, it's about opening up people's eyes and we really needed that in this country."

And although he knows this will likely be his final big trip on one of his beloved Ducatis, it has been a life changing experience for John.

"It's been an emotional rollercoaster," he admitted.

"But I'm doing it for my own peace of mind."

From Wallabi, John's next big stop is Canberra where he will meet with representatives from the ACT's Parkinson's organisation, before heading south to Tasmania where contacts are eagerly awaiting his visit and in the end he will have been around the country one and a half times.

He then plans to continue campaigning, long after he returns home to Adelaide, and hopes to see all Parkinson's bodies working together in the coming years for further exposure and support for sufferers.

John is documenting his journey on his Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/john.stockwell.

To donate to John's fundraising, please visit: give.everydayhero.com/au/the-ride-of-my-life-for-parkinsons or call Parkinson's SA on 08 8357 8909.

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