NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — A courageous 80-year-old named Graham Byrnes is sailing the waters in Eastern North Carolina to raise money for Parkinson’s disease.
The money will go towards Rock Steady Gym in New Bern, which is part of the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Byrnes has Parkinson’s himself, so this fundraiser means so much to him and the Rock Steady Gym. He said he hopes the money raised will be able to help those who deal with this disease daily.
Byrnes is sailing for Parkinson’s in his 17-foot boat named ‘Carlita’ around the Pamlico Sound, traveling a total of 500 nautical miles by himself. He’s currently on his third day, docking in New Bern for class at Rock Steady.
“I just turned 80, and I’m so surprised I actually made it that long, with ten years with Parkinson’s,” Byrnes said. “So I realized what they did for me and where and how I can give back and help somebody else coming along behind me.”
Byrnes has been coming to the Rock Steady Gym for over a year. He says it’s helped him become fit.
“They work us hard and give us a real balance in an exercise routine,” Byrnes said. “It makes us stronger, it builds up your stamina to reconnect any nerves we lost and makes our brain work harder.”
Roger List has Parkinson’s and is also a member of Rock Steady. He said he’s grateful to have gym mates like Graham doing something for a good cause.
“The public isn’t aware of how many people in the country have Parkinson’s and how it seems like it’s a faster-growing disease,” List said.
“We love Graham,” Bethany Richards, the founder of Bike Box Project and Rock Steady Gym, said. “He’s such a special part of our class.”
Richards said she’s impressed with how Graham isn’t letting his age and Parkinson’s get in the way of sailing the Pamlico Sound.
“He sailed so much early on in his career and for him to feel he can still do that and do it alone on a 17-foot boat, I just think it speaks volumes,” Richards said.
If you want to pitch in and donate to Graham’s Sailing For Parkinson’s, click here.