Running for a Cause: Our Inspiring 2023 Sydney Marathon Champions for Parkinson’s
Tuesday, 14th November 2023

In September 2023, a group of motivated fundraisers laced up their runners and hit the pavement for the Sydney Marathon, fueled by the desire to hit their personal goals and make a real difference in the world of Parkinson’s research – raising over $40,000 for our best fundraising result ever for the marathon!

We spoke to some of this year’s participants to find out what motivated them to take on the challenge, and what drives their commitment to fundraise for Parkinson’s research. If you’re contemplating next year’s race, read on to find out what’s in store!

Tell us all about race day! How did you find it?

Daniela: Race day was so fun and exciting. The vibe was great!

Victor: It was a beautiful day. An early start for the Half Marathons at 5.45am, but the hot weather that week made the morning start quite pleasurable. As we ran over the Harbour Bridge the sun was literally rising over Kirribilli – magical. It is something special to run across your city in such a big event.

Mark: It was an amazing experience. The course was a lot tougher than I anticipated due to the scorching weather but the feeling crossing the finish line and having my family there meant everything.

Jad: I walked in the 3,5km Family Fun Run.  I was a little nervous as I had trouble with my Parkinson’s medication not quite taking effect in the morning. Eventually everything settled down and I got to enjoy the course. The vibe at the start line was exciting as we watched everyone prepare for the race, especially for me as it was my first time doing a fun run. You’re never too old to try new things!

What was the highlight of taking part in the Sydney Marathon for you?

Jad: Jogging across the bridge. It was only for 50 metres, but I did it! It was so satisfying for me to cross the finish line with my children, Richard and Tegan, walking with me.

Victor: I was really happy with the race, I was able to achieve my goal of under 2 hours, and achieve my fundraising goal for Shake it Up! The last few kms were quite painful but a great achievement for me to cross the finish line. I was confident that I could finish this time (my second half marathon), but wanted to get a better time!

Daniela: Running across the Sydney Harbour Bridge was an amazing experience, with  all the roads being closed and being able to take in the beautiful Sydney harbour!

Mark: The main highlight for me was running across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the incredible atmosphere from the crowd during the entire race. So much support and people coming together was beautiful to be a part of!

What inspired you to take part in the Marathon and raise funds for Parkinson’s research?

Daniela: My dad suffers from Parkinson’s disease. In just 8 years, I have seen how fast this horrible disease can progress. I would really love for a cure to be found so no one needs to live with Parkinson’s. All the money donated to Shake It Up is going towards research, which is amazing. The organisation is also partnered with the Michael J Fox foundation and I believe they do a lot for Parkinson’s research and can see they are making a huge impact on the world.

Mark: My father Hans drives my commitment, along with the 200,000 other Australians living with Parkinson’s. I want to make a positive difference. Dad was diagnosed recently in 2022, and I’ve seen the impact the disease has had on himself as an individual and those around him. I chose Shake It Up Australia, because one day I’d love to live in a world without Parkinson’s. This isn’t possible without research, and I know that’s what they’re all about.

Jad: I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s myself in 2021, which was initially a big shock. I figured that while I am still physically doing OK, this was something I could actually do to let me give back and help raise money for research and support for the thousands of people who are affected just like me. I wanted to raise money to speed up the research. My son did some research and found that Shake It Up funds research into a cure and works in conjunction with the Michael J Fox Foundation, so that felt right.

Victor: My wife’s father battled Parkinson’s for much of his and her life. He was diagnosed in his 40s and passed away last year. If we can make a difference to improve awareness and research, that’s a great outcome. And I loved the name Shake It Up! Ironically my 7 year old son had the song ‘Shake it off’ by Taylor Swift as part of his school dance the same week I ran for ‘Shake it Up’ too! It was meant to be.

What is your advice for someone thinking of participating in a race or challenge for Parkinson’s?

Mark: I’d encourage people to take the first step to get involved, no matter how big or small. Stay true to your values and realise so much good and positivity can come from making a difference. It’s contagious.

Jad: It’s a really personal thing. Some people ran a marathon, I helped by going for a 3.5km walk. Some people can’t do that, but they can still help by supporting in their own way. Even if it’s a small gesture, lots of people doing little things can collectively make a big difference together. Every little bit helps!

Daniela: Just do it! You will be surprised how many people will support and donate. Race day is fun no matter how fast or slow you are – and you are doing it for a great cause.

Victor: It’s been great to have a range of goals both personal and social. I had a ‘personal best’ target as well as a fundraising target. The experience would have still been great if I hadn’t achieved both, but when I did it makes it that much sweeter. Keep on runnin’ everyone!

Want to take part in a fun run or athletic challenge for Shake It Up? Check out the upcoming events in your state and register to start fundraising today!