For Carl Ames of the Centennial Ward, Peoria Arizona Stake, life has been an interesting ride.
After a 2008 Parkinson’s diagnosis, Ames took up cycling. A decade later, riding is a family affair for the Ames clan—and they’re riding for a cause.
On August 4, 2018, Ames was joined by daughter Jacie, son Jordan, and Jordan’s wife, Marin, on the 79-mile Copper Triangle in Colorado, a ride which raises money for the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s. The Ames family were just a few of the roughly 3000 people who participated in the course. The challenging mountain pass loop, which begins and ends at the Copper Mountain Ski Resort, boasts beautiful scenery and an elevation gain of 6500 feet.
“With every uphill there is a downhill, which brings with it a thrilling experience,” says Ames. “I was so happy to be there with my family and to see those that rode accomplish something challenging and fun, and to see the rest of them greeting us at the top of the last pass, and again at the finish line.”
Leisa, his wife, was among those family members there to greet him. The road leading from the initial Parkinson’s diagnosis was “scary,” she admits. “We didn’t really know how to respond.” Now, with help from Davis Phinney educational workshops and events (partially funded through events like the Copper Triangle), she knows “a little more what to expect” about the disease, which has manifested in rigidity and tightness, pain, slow and halted movement, and dexterity challenges to her husband.
“With a good sense of humor, we are learning our roles and know better how to respond. The kids have come to
realize that Dad is still Dad.”
One of the biggest ways in which the family supports each other is through events like the Copper Triangle. 2018 marks their 4th ride; the Ames family also participates in the Baehr Challenge 5K fun run/obstacle course, which supports the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Ames has also done El Tour de Tucson “two or three times,” as well as various rides to raise money for multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. One standout organization the Ames family enjoys supporting is POPS (Pedaling Over Parkinson’s), which gave Ames the opportunity to ride from Vancouver to San Diego.
While getting on his bike can present a physical challenge and require additional time and effort, Ames finds comfort in a familiar flow: “Once I get my feet on the pedals and get ‘connected’ to the bike, I seem to have the ability to move more with ease as if I have been given a respite for a period of time.”
Ultimately, cycling connects Ames not only to a healthier, more active life, but to greater purpose and community.
“I don’t wish Parkinson’s on anyone,” Ames says, “but I wish everyone could have the opportunity to experience the things that I have experienced with Parkinson’s. I am so grateful that I have faith in a loving Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ. My understanding of the plan of salvation and the fact that we will have challenges in various ways to deal with help me endure.”