Pedaling for a Parkinson’s cure

The New England Parkinson’s Ride raises money for medical research to find a cure for Parkinson’s and to support those currently living with the disease. They reached their goal of 500 votes and doubled their donation to reach $10,000. 

The New England Parkinson’s Ride has two primary goals. First, to raise money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which supports researchers around the world in their quest for better treatments, and ultimately, a cure for Parkinson’s Disease. Second, to support the hundreds of people in the agency’s local area living with the disease, and their loved ones, by providing a way to be directly involved in working towards a cure. Open to cyclists of all ages and abilities, the ride has created a sense of community among people affected by the struggles of living with Parkinson’s Disease.  

Pedaling for a Parkinson’s cure 5
Chris (left), Cindy, Michael J. Fox and Edna (right). New England Parkinson's Ride is the nation's largest donor to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

A family affair  

 

Advantage Insurance owners Chris and Terry Woods, along with Chris’s parents, Edna and Bob, founded the ride in 2008 because there was no other cycling event supporting Parkinson’s research in the Northeast. It also had a personal dimension for them as Chris, an avid cyclist, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when he was 41 years old.   

 

Pedaling for a Parkinson’s cure 2

Terry Woods (left) and Chris Woods (center), owners of Advantage Insurance, cross the finish line of the 100-mile New England Parkinson’s Ride along with fellow cyclists. 

 

During the Ride’s first year, they recruited 37 cyclists and raised $27,000. Since then, it has grown into the largest fundraising event in the country for the Michael J. Fox Foundation, raising more than $8 million to date. The ride officially became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2013.  

Pedaling for a Parkinson’s cure 6
Riders honor family members who battled Parkinson's disease on the heroes banner.

A year-round effort 

 

Pulling off this impressive event has become a year-round effort. Led by full-time Executive Director Cindy Woods Theberge, who is Chris’s sister, the nonprofit has a part-time supporting staff, a board of nine dedicated officers and more than 250 volunteers. With Cindy at the helm, the team organizes the more than 1,300 cyclists who annually navigate four routes near Old Orchard Beach, Maine, that range from 10 to 100 miles around. Volunteers also provide support at a dozen rest stops. Along with riding the 100-mile route and personally raising more than $10,000 each year, Chris has also served as Chairman of the Board of the nonprofit since 2018. In addition, the agency staff also helps with a wide variety of tasks in support of the cause. 

 

Pedaling for a Parkinson’s cure 1

Chris Woods celebrates with his mother, and nonprofit co-founder, Edna Woods, after finishing the 100-mile New England Parkinson’s Ride.

 

Wheels of fortune 

 

After raising more than $1.3 million in 2019, the ride was forced to change its approach in 2020 due to the global pandemic. Rather than risk losing momentum by taking the year off, Executive Director Cindy Theberge got creative and formed the “Cycling in Sync” program to keep things rolling. This effort included recruiting cyclists from every U.S. state, plus six other countries, to ride on the same day in different places around the world. The result was more than a thousand cyclists coming together to raise more than $1.1 million for Parkinson’s research.  

 

“This year we had the exciting return of cyclists to an in-person event, while, continuing the new tradition of Cycling In Sync across the nation,” said Theberge. “The 2021 ride has raised nearly $1.3 million so far, with fundraising continuing through the end of the year.”

 

This past year, Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance employees, Michael Cushman and Forrest Oberst, volunteered at the event, helping with watering stations and welcoming the cyclists across the finish line. 

 

 

Pedaling for a Parkinson’s cure 3

An early morning start to a ride in September 2021.

 

 

This year we had the exciting return of cyclists to an in-person event, while continuing the new tradition of Cycling In Sync across the nation. The 2021 ride has raised nearly $1.3 million so far, with fundraising continuing through the end of the year.

– Cindy Woods Theberge, Executive Director, New England Parkinson’s Ride  

Pedaling for a Parkinson’s cure
Advantage Insurance employee Ashley McKenna (right) leans on her mom, Betty Arbia, during a long day of directing traffic at the New England Parkinson’s Ride.

Continuing the cycle of giving 

 

In these challenging times, a $10,000 donation from Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance would help the nonprofit reach their annual fundraising goal to give to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s research.  

 

To vote, share this story using the blue icons to the left, comment below or both. Every vote or comment gets the New England Parkinson’s Ride closer to a $10,000 donation. To learn more, visit New England Parkinson’s Ride and Advantage Insurance.

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Michael Cushman
3 months ago

Amazing organization and family I have the privilege to call friends and peers.

Chris Woods
3 months ago

Thank you Safeco & Liberty Mutual for the recognition and for your generosity.

Mac Rosenbaum
3 months ago

vote

Ashley McKenna
3 months ago

Incredible people achieving extraordinary things! Please vote for the New England Parkinson’s Ride!

Linda Morrison
3 months ago

Incredible organization run by the most wonderful people

Mary Higgins-Bucher
3 months ago

Family commitment drove the creation of this event bringing the community together year after year to support this important cause. So proud to call the Woods my family.

Rebecca Sherwood
3 months ago

Such a great family and organization! I really hope they get to their goal of $10,000!

Kerry
3 months ago

Advantage Insurance and the New England Parkinson’s Ride have my vote!

Frank Fermino
3 months ago

I don’t see the icons to click to share but totally will share our story and comment. This is an amazing event with amazing people and energy.
We look forward to the emotions and smiles every year.

Rachel Eames
3 months ago

What a fantastic charity!

Debora Hillier
3 months ago

You guys are amazing! So happy to know you both! 🙂

Laurie
3 months ago

Wow, what a great charity!!

Christopher Fitts
3 months ago

Well done Chris and family! Great work for a great cause!

Meg Foster
3 months ago

Amazing! Great charity!

Kevin Fosman
3 months ago

Great Idea for a great cause!

Laura Strohecker
3 months ago

Amazing work you are doing. Keep it up.

Kathy Flygare.
3 months ago

I rode the first three years for Team Woods. It was a great ride. So amazed by this family.

Diane Gibbins
3 months ago

A wonderful organization and family and I am proud have participated and to see how it has grown into such an incredible event….all starting with a family’s love. Amazing! So glad the Woods family and the NE Parkinson’s Ride are being recognized and have this opportunity to raise even more money for this important cause. Please vote or comment!

Laura Akerley
3 months ago

Amazing non-profit and truly wonderful people!!

Russell S Cannon
3 months ago

Tremendous effort for a incredibly worthy cause. Great work.

Kim Wood
3 months ago

Best wishes for all the great work you are doing.

Katie Bates
3 months ago

Amazing charity that I am proud to support!

Erin
3 months ago

Amazing work!

Daryl Fenton
3 months ago

Thank you to the entire Advantage Insurance team, for their continued efforts to bring awareness and raise funds for Parkinson’s research!

Sam Kirovsky
3 months ago

Keep pedaling!

Sharon Bixby
3 months ago

Have supported the Michael J Fox Foundation as well– a great cause.

Richard Brownell Sr
3 months ago

Good Work!

Christopher Cole
3 months ago

Incredible people achieving extraordinary things! Please vote for the New England Parkinson’s Ride!

Mel Mendoza
3 months ago

Sharing is caring!

Chris Cole
3 months ago

Good luck!

Chris Cole
3 months ago

Great job!

Shelley Toland
3 months ago

Superheroes in action!

Emily Pelletier
3 months ago

What a great cause! Way to go!

Alexander Pratt
3 months ago

I want to add my vote to the others for them

Caleb Haydanek
3 months ago

This is amazing!

Beckie Wasielewski
3 months ago

Fantastic people helping out a great cause. Thank you

Jim Waldron
3 months ago

Great event…great cause. Congratulations!

Leslee
3 months ago

Keep up the great work!

Daniel MacNeil
3 months ago

Awesome cause and keep up the great work!

Kimberley Mondonedo
3 months ago

What a beautiful family story. Sending best wishes and blessings to Chris, Terry, Edna and all who are working so hard for this wonderful project.

James Hillier
3 months ago

Great Job! You have my support!

Cindy Theberge
3 months ago

Thank you Liberty Mutual and Safeco for understanding the heart of our ride!

Tom Lizotte
3 months ago

Advantage Insurance and the New England Parkinson’s Ride have my vote

Rich DiPalma
3 months ago

Great work Chris!

Jeanne Walker
3 months ago

Advantage Insurance is the best! They have my vote.

Guy Daigneault
3 months ago

I have done the century ride three times and volunteered once. Wonderful experiences every time. The NEPR organization from the top, the Woods family and sponsors, to the volunteers at the Ballfield at Old Orchard Beach, the crossing guards and police directing traffic in the towns we ride through, and especially at the rest stops are amazing, encouraging words for the riders no matter how far they are riding. All appreciated. A true bike rider’s family. Thank you and you have my vote

Peter Conover
3 months ago

Great Organization – happy to support!

Mary Licqurish
3 months ago

Truly an inspiring event ! Thank you for all you have done in the fight against this awful disease!

Sean
3 months ago

Love this ride!

Emily V
3 months ago

vote!!!

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