Gavin Takes on the Massive Murray Paddle for Parkinson’s

Exercise has been identified as a major factor in slowing the progression of Parkinson’s, not to mention improving overall health. Our hero this week, Gavin, was persuaded by his exercise physiologist to enter the Massive Murray Paddle – 404kms in 5 days along one of Australia’s most famous rivers. Although missing a couple of legs of the challenge, Gavin made it to the end of the event; a huge achievement in his battle with Parkinson’s. 

What Drives Your Commitment to find a cure for Parkinson’s?

I have Parkinson’s, there is no cure, and though I’m in the early stages and able to continue a relatively normal life and still hold a job, this will not always be so. My biggest drive at present is to stay ahead of the condition until there is a better option than a deep brain stimulator, but these are only treating the condition not solving the problem of why and how. As my neurologist says, “all society has to do is not build one new football stadium and use the money for research, and we will have a solution”. Can’t imagine that will happen anytime soon so I’ll donate by subscription and paddle the Murray to raise awareness.

Why Shake It Up Australia?

I met Clyde at the forum in Nowra a year or so ago, my story is similar to his so there’s a connection. The biggest reason is the commitment from Clyde that every dollar donated to the foundation goes directly to research. The fact that Clyde covers all administration costs through his own business shows the utmost commitment to me. When I talk to people about Shake It Up, I tell them this, and I believe it has made people take more interested in the foundation. To me, the other organisations seem more focused on fundraising and putting money in the bank, something I cannot understand.

Tell us what you are doing/did to Shake Things Up?

My exercise Physiologist, Ms Brodie Cambourne (absolute bloody legend) has suggested that I enter the Massive Murray Paddle (MMP) for a long time leading up to the event. She has been instrumental in keeping me ahead of this disease with activities such as Stand up Paddle boarding, Pilates and more recently paddling Ocean Skis. I am fitter now than I have ever been before diagnosis. To enter the MMP each entrant needs to nominate a charity, that was an easy choice. The MMP is a 404klm paddle form Yarrawonga to Swan Hill over five days in November. This year’s event was the 50th anniversary. My plan was to aim to do 2 out of 4 legs each day and achieve 200 kms. Due to a few circumstances, I missed two legs I hoped to do but still managed to do 165. Rather chuffed with that as a first attempt. I initially entered as a relay team where 2 of us would take turnabout on the river paddling one leg at a time however the other person withdrew, as an individual paddler you have to start at the beginning of the day, and once you get off the river, you cannot get back on. Next year I will do it as a relay with another paddler and between us, we will be able to cover the full distance. Shake It Up will be my charity again in 2019.

Greatest Reward

Staying ahead of PD! When the going gets tough, that’s what it all boils down to, staying ahead of PD. I have no idea where I placed in the MMP, and I don’t care, it wasn’t about that. There were hard days on the creek training, sometimes staying ahead was the only thing that kept me going. Other rewards; very happy to have helped get some exposure for Shake It Up, this was a big driving force. Tuesday mornings start was particularly hard, and there was an urge not to start, but I committed myself, my support team and the foundation to get out regardless and get the Shake It Up stickers on the river.  I’m not one for public exposure, it was hard to socialise with the hundreds of people on and around the event but was good to be able to spread the word when asked. I’m happy to sit on the fringes but cannot get up in front of people, so this is how I helped out, and I’m very happy with the extra exposure I got for the cause.

Best advice for people looking to Shake It Up?

Get off the couch and get stuck in. The couch only makes it worse. Stay active; this can be by entering an event or just getting more awareness for Parkinson’s. It’s all about staying ahead of PD and finding the cure.