Fox is spending the summer of 2015 on a 14,000-mile journey, biking and hiking his way across the USA and climbing the highest peak in each of the lower 48 states.
He is undertaking the effort to raise $1 million for critical Parkinson’s disease research — and he is doing so in honor of his mother, Lucy, who is living with the disease. His support crew on the three-and-a-half-month “Tour de Fox” includes two other former Yale track and field student-athletes, Anne Lovelace ‘12 and Chris Stanley ‘11.
Fox’s mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, a degenerative neurological disorder, in 2000. On the Tour de Fox blog, he describes how she motivates him:
“I love challenging myself physically. I always have, and as long as I can move I’m sure I always will. I’ve jokingly said about the Tour de Fox that if you gave me a three and half month vacation, my itinerary would look a whole lot like my schedule this summer. The full truth though is that as the miles, the sun burns, the bruises, and sleep deficit piles up, it gets more difficult and indeed physically painful just to keep going. That’s when I turn to my mom for inspiration. And not just because she has Parkinson’s and is fighting it, but because she’s always been tough, she’s taught me to be tough in my way, and I feel a healthy pressure to make her proud out here.”
Proceeds from Fox’s efforts will go to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, a charity started by the actor in 2000 shortly after he went public with his own diagnosis with the disease. Sam Fox, who is the Foundation’s Outreach and Engagement Officer, is not related to Michael J. Fox. The Tour de Fox will end in September on Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver, Canada — near where Michael J. Fox grew up.
Fox kicked off his journey in New York on June 2 with a “TODAY” Show appearance. He has made his way to 34 states to date, and is currently in Wyoming. He is scheduled to conclude the U.S. portion of the tour in Washington during the first week of September, when he will climb Mt. Rainier (14,410 feet).
Lovelace, former captain of the Yale women’s cross country team, is on the tour until Aug. 8, when she will head back to medical school. Stanley — who also played football for Yale — is joining many of the climbs while focusing on group logistics for the Tour.
Fox has a history of taking on extreme physical challenges to raise funds. In 2011 he ran 2,650 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, averaging more than 42 miles per day for two months. Those efforts raised $150,000 toward a cure for Parkinson’s disease, which was then matched by The Michael J. Fox Foundation’s Brin Wojcicki Challenge (thanks to a leadership gift from another former Yale student-athlete, women’s ice hockey player Anne Wojcicki ’96, and her husband, Sergey Brin) for an astounding total contribution of $300,000.
In June 2012, Fox raised another $100,000 by running more than 100 miles in a single day from Manhattan’s Times Square to the tip of Long Island.
Fox has run, hiked, biked, skied and climbed in the Alps, the Rockies, the Canadian and American Cascades, the Sierras, the White Mountains and the Himalayas. A native of Rhode Island, he attended South Kingstown public schools and then The Wheeler School in Providence. At Yale he won a gold medal at the 2007 Penn Relays, then earned All-Ivy and All-East recognition while also qualifying for the NCAA East Regional Championships in 2009.
To date, the Tour de Fox has raised more than $600,000. Each stop on the Tour includes opportunities for those interested to help raise funds by biking or climbing with Fox, or by taking part in a celebratory event. To support or join the Tour, visit tourdefox.org.