WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Trans Am Series race car driver Kurt Roehrig turned his surprising diagnosis of Parkinson's disease in 2011 to an opportunity to raise awareness.
In November of 2011, Roehrig said he went to the doctor after a friend noticed a change in his health.
"He says 'you look horrible'. I said, 'Well geez thanks.' He said no seriously, 'You're stooped over your walk is different, you look just like a friend of mine who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease."
Roehrig said none of his family members have ever had the disease.
After consulting with his doctor at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Dr. Ihtsham Haq, he decided to continue racing.
"It’s remarkable what he has done, but he was doing it before and that's kind of what Parkinson’s patients seem to do I think," Haq said. "Thankfully as Kurt has said appropriately, it's not a death sentence.”
Along with medication, Roehrig is under an intense workout regimen with cycling and Pilates to decrease the common symptoms of stiffness and tremors.
To help raise awareness about the disease, Roehrig hosts race-a-thons in which drivers can collect pledges for a donation per lap completed in the Trans Am Races.
He also held a pancake breakfast before his 2013 Trans Am Season Finale at Daytona International Speedway. All of the proceeds go to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
"The awareness that we want to put forth is be upbeat, exercise hard, work hard and you can keep this pretty much at bay," Roehrig said.