Running for friend battling Parkinson

special to IN

By Shelby Smithey….

A local runner is traveling to Colorado to compete in the 2012 Rock ’n’ Roll Denver Marathon to raise money for Parkinson’s disease in honor of her best friend who lives with the disease.

Ashley Garrett will be taking on the 26.2-mile challenge Sept. 22 to raise awareness about young onset Parkinson’s after her friend, Randi Schultz of Denver, Colo. was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 36. This will be Garrett’s second long-distance marathon. Garrett said that her friend Randi is very proud of her accomplishments.

“Randi is a very humble person, but I know she loves the idea of me running for this cause,” Garrett said. “Obviously, it’s something that’s very near and dear to her heart, and if her story can help others that are like her, she’s going to do everything that she can to get that out there.

Parkinson’s disease affects nearly one million people in the U.S., but young onset Parkinson’s is less common.

“Less than three percent of patients are in their 30’s, and there is just not a lot of information and support groups out there for them,” Garrett said. “Most of the information out there is for those diagnosed that are older in age. By getting awareness out there, we hope that the next person diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s will have new and current information that Randi didn’t have when she was first coming to terms with it.”

Garrett is working with the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation Champion’s Program to generate funding and awareness. PDF Executive Director Robin Elliot said that they are grateful for people like Garrett who are dedicated to funding the most promising research and raising awareness about the impact of Parkinson’s.

“Her efforts to help PDF improve the lives and futures of the nearly one million people across the country living with Parkinson’s are inspiring,” Elliot said.

Garrett said that Randi not only inspires her in running, but in every aspect of life.

“She’s given me a purpose for running, other than just for the accomplishment, or because I love it,” she said. “She reminds me every day that if I just keep putting my best foot forward and keep moving, I can accomplish anything.”

Garrett has already reached her goal of $1,500, but still wants to encourage others to donate.

To donate, visit Garrett’s personal fundraising page. For more information contact PDF at (800) 457-6676, or