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Bucklew walks across America

January 15, 2018

 

STARLA GATSON
Editor-in-Chief | sjg021@ latech.edu

 

Upon his arrival to Louisiana Tech campus, Bill Bucklew was greeted by university president Les Guice and nursing department faculty, staff and students. – Photo courtesy of Donna Hood

 

Many say in order to see life from another’s point-of-view, one must walk a mile in his shoes. To relate to Bill Bucklew, however, one would have to walk 2,500 miles.

 

On Nov. 24, Bucklew, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2012, set out to walk across the United States ­­— from Tybee Island, Georgia, to San Diego, California ­— to raise awareness for the disease and funds for Parkinson’s research.

 

“I had been a runner my whole life, and now, because of Parkinson’s, I can’t really run very well,” he said. “But I can still walk pretty well. I’d done all these fundraisers with the same kind of friends and neighbors for years, and everybody’s getting a little donor-fatigue, so I had to do something big.”

 

All of the money raised by Bucklew and his team will be donated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, and as of Jan. 4, he has raised over $75,000 for the cause.

 

Bucklew and his team have documented his trek across the country through blog posts on his website, Uncorked Adventures, and he said he plans to write a book about the experience at the end of the journey.

 

“The disease affects so many different aged people — different ethnicities, different cultural elements — and the U.S. is so culturally diverse, I wanted to highlight the way the disease affected people across the U.S. and write a short book about that,” he said.

 

Bucklew said the most rewarding part of his journey has been the connections he’s made with people across the nation.

 

“I’m not really prone to emotion, but I’ve been in tears at least five or six times on this trip because of people I’ve met,” he said. “The generosity of people, it’s been amazing.”

 

On Dec. 14, Bucklew’s path led him through Ruston. Tara Haskins, an associate professor of nursing, heard of Bucklew’s story through a connection at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and arranged for him to visit Louisiana Tech’s campus where he was greeted by nursing department faculty, staff and students, as well as participants and coaches of Rock Steady Boxing, a program for Parkinson’s patients.

 

“I thought it would be a great opportunity for students, faculty and the Rock Steady team to meet someone that is doing what some would see as impossible to increase awareness and raise money for Parkinson’s research,” she said. “His inspiration is memorable. It’s important also to see someone with Parkinson’s that is fighting through adversity to make a difference.”

 

Haskins said Bucklew’s walk across the country has not only been effective in raising funds for Parkinson’s research, but has also begun conversations about the disease at grassroots level in towns across the country. She said his personal connection will be a catalyst for someone who is quiet about their own diagnosis.

 

“In order to improve the care of people with Parkinson’s, we have to be able to have frank conversations about the disease to understand it better,” she said. “No one knows better the challenges than one that lives with them; we have to listen to their stories.”

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