“Life, When a Song is Left on Repeat” – Adam Freier
Thursday, 8th March 2012

My first encounter with Shake It Up certainly left its mark on me, although not in the way many would think. It was something that I had constantly ringing in my head.

The charities name certainly resonated with me in the form of The 1980’s pop song by The Cars, ‘Shake It Up’.  “Shake it up (high monotone)…… Shake it up (low monotone)…….. We’ll dance all night, with no excuse….” Catchy? Yes. I have been hooked for some 12 months now.

Not the best track to have on your mind in a fun run/walk.

Try singing it in your head without strutting like an alpha male, pretending to be wearing a white suit like Don Johnson in Miami Vice. Yes, it is difficult.  But I learnt to live with this tune embedded in my brain.

You may be suffering from the same condition I had. In modern medicine, and from a musical diagnostic sense, it’s commonly known as the Foster the Peoples ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ Syndrome. You will try not to sing it, but it keeps popping up somewhere and it leaves you with no choice but to sing along. “You better run baby run, outrun my gun…..”

Parkinson’s disease is an almighty bitch to run from, many are constantly reminded of it, like a song on repeat, we don’t want to hear or boogie to.

Problem is I am no doctor, sufferer or Molly Meldrum picking a top ten tune. In fact I hardly ever wear leather or denim; I wear tweed and chinos.  I play to the beat of a different drum – I am a high class Hooker.

Actually, it’s probably best I describe myself as a professional Rugby Union player and have done so for over 14 years.

I am the luckiest man on Earth.

However, I get up each morning in pain. I have nerve damage from a ray of back operations. But you will never hear me complain. I find my pain is easily dismissed, by taking the mickey out of the situation. I can’t feel my foot. It buzzes and sometimes doesn’t move until I “shake it up” (if you’ll pardon the pun).

My Gen Y teammates would ask; “What’s Hap-ning”? My answer on cue would be simple and swift. “I can’t feel my foot. I’m dealing with it” It would always receive a roar from the crowd. The boys love it, we have even developed a phrase of ‘feeling neural’, to which I always reply ‘yep’, but I am dealing with it.

My issues are a midget against the giant of society. Have you ever heard of the saying “It’s only a game?” Well that’s my full time job.

It may sound so passé, to be the one who tells you what a tough life people with Parkinson’s have to endure when the only thing I suffer with is a little buzz in the foot. There will be no violins playing of any kind as I deliver my declaration.  Although, what I will declare is that I have no idea what it’s like to live with PD.

I have not had any family member or friends affected by this condition.  What I do have is a first-hand experience of the spirit and the resilience of many people who have been diagnosed, along with their families and their hardy followers who dare to dream, to one day find a cure.

I don’t live a bubble like many would think of professional footballers these days. I don’t drink Red Bull or have an XBOX. I believe in people and human spirit.  I believe in signs. It’s no coincidence that only 2 days after reading “Lucky Man”, by Michael J.Fox, the phone rang asking me to be part of the Sydney Running Festival for ‘Shake It Up’, a request in which I had no hesitation.

People call me a modern day hippie because I always carry on with three little words in my life that were read out at my wedding some 3 years ago.

They were: HOPE FAITH  & LOVE. The world cannot operate without all these working in unison.  That why I love this charity, it represents all these and then some.  That’s what I have found within this group of proud people, this community, and this collective group of inspirational beings.

So maybe I really am a muso trapped in the wrong era, although playing rugby in tie-dye and cut-off denim jeans would be difficult, and very uncomfortable.


Adam Freier

Hooker – Melbourne Rebels

Sometimes Writer – Melbourne Age and Sydney Morning Herald

About Adam Freier

Adam is an ex Wallaby and Waratah and sports commentator, now playing for the Melbourne Rebels.  Adam was contacted by a member of the Foundation and invited to run for Team Fox Australia in the Blackmore’s Sydney Running Festival. Having just finished reading Michael J Fox’s biography, Adam felt this was a sign to get on board.