Olivia Runs Her Own Race for Parkinson’s Research
Thursday, 18th April 2024

At Shake It Up, we believe that everyone can make a difference. Many of our supporters choose to challenge themselves with an athletic event to raise both funds and awareness for Parkinson’s disease research. Olivia will be completing the Gold Coast Half Marathon in July, committing to pound the pavement for 21KM all the while raising awareness and funds for Shake It Up Australia, in honour of her dad who lives with Parkinson’s. 

We spoke to Olivia to find out all about her preparation for the race, what inspired her to get involved and her advice for others wanting to do something for the Parkinson’s community.

What inspired you to sign up to the half-marathon?

Five years ago, my family’s life shifted –  we found out that my 53 year old father, Andrew, had Parkinson’s. Leading up to this, Dad was always very active with his gym efforts, football, cricket & he travelled quite significantly for work and also for leisure. As you can imagine, it was devastating to hear and to come to terms with the challenges that not only himself but our family would face.

Slowly but surely after his diagnosis, his symptoms started to progress rapidly both physically and cognitively. Three years later, when he was 56, he was forced to prematurely retire due to his diagnosis and the quick deterioration he faced. Now at 58 – he faces a new challenge that goes hand in hand with Parkinson’s – early Alzheimer’s.

How is your preparation for the race going?

Growing up, running was always my Roman empire. I despised it.

However, late last year – something clicked within me that made me want to lace up my shoes and try and make a difference within the Parkinson’s community.

My first ever run in September last year was 2km… So I thought, lets add another 19km on top! How hard could it be…? In a simple answer – extremely challenging.

I find myself facing quite a bit of fatigue, sore muscles, hunger and trying to balance the training schedule with my fulltime job is quite difficult. However, when I’m not wanting to train or find myself struggling throughout a run I try and find some perspective. If I can move my body like this and raise awareness & funds for people with Parkinson’s who face challenges daily with simple tasks, I believe I can achieve this one small feat and feel uncomfortable for a few months leading up to and during the half marathon.

My quote for this running and fundraising era is: “I’m moving my body for those who no longer have control over their own”.

How are you raising funds for Shake It Up through this process?

This is the first ever half marathon that I have ever been a part of and I’m finding the support from family, friends, colleagues & also members from Shake It Up overwhelming. I never thought I would be able to create a movement that has gained traction like this in my life! So I’m incredibly humbled that my community has rallied around me!

Personally, I have my own fundraising page & my workplace, Mount Gravatt Mazda, has also collaborated with Suncorp for all new vehicle sales –  $25 will be donated when Suncorp is selected for CTP purposes.

We also held our on free dress day on April 11th for World Parkinson’s Day, with staff members contributing funds. The donation tins will be out and on display until my half mara in July!

My marketing team and I have also generated QR codes which are located at each sales person’s desk so if customers in the showroom wish to donate they are taken straight to my fundraising page.

Why did you choose to raise funds for Shake It Up Australia?

After doing some research about the Parkinson’s charity I wanted to fundraise for I landed on Shake It Up Australia. The reason I chose this charity is because we share the same values that I believe EVERY charity organisation should have – trust, commitment, collaboration, innovative, agile, accountability & drive.

What is your advice for others hoping to make a difference for Parkinson’s?

Start small with no expectations because at the end of the day even the smallest contribution can be beneficial. This can mean you financially donate to someone’s cause or start a fundraising effort yourself, you could give a like or share on a social media platform or like myself someone asks “why you are mad enough to do a half marathon?” and I elaborate – you’ve now started the conversation about Parkinson’s and have most likely given them information that they never knew before.

It’s not to late to make a difference this April for Parkinson’s Awareness Month by participating in fundraising and hosting a #Pancakes4Parkinsons event!