Born in Norwich, Connecticut, Larry Smith went on to attend Southern Connecticut State University. There he met Betty, his wife of 37 years. After serving on the Hamden Police Department for 26 years, Larry retired and he and his wife moved to South Dakota. Eventually, Larry started a small restaurant named Mr. Smith’s Bakery Café where he and his staff daily produce his famous salted baguettes and new treats.
Sixteen years ago, Larry was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Larry became an avid cycler with his PD diagnosis. So much so that “Ride with Larry” was born. Ride with Larry is a documentary of life with Larry and his wife Betty… and Parkinson’s disease. Through the course of this documentary, research studies in Europe will be filmed, several interviews with geneticists, neurosurgeons, and researchers who are working on finding cures and ways to make living with Parkinson’s disease easier.
Dealing with PD isn’t easy – for anyone. Caregivers are often putting their own needs second, in order to care for their loved one. However, as Betty Smith says, “If you can’t care for yourself, you can’t care for anybody else.”
Larry began his training on January 19th. He rode 13.1 miles on a stationary bicycle. Larry rides a stationary bike almost every day, as it makes a big difference in his mood and how well he can do other things like walking and talking.
By January 23, 2011, Team Larry had raised $38, 656 of the $50,000 goal they had set and with only seven days until the deadline, they were feeling the pressure. Meanwhile, Larry continued training hard each day and at spinning classes. He was up to 17 miles in 40 minutes.
On January 25th, a toast was in order, as the goal was exceeded and the final numbers were $62, 695. Larry and his dedicated team continue to train through the low temperatures and harsh winter conditions with a determination that doesn’t know the word ‘quit’.
The following video is an interview with Larry Smith and director of the documentary, Ricardo Villarreal, done this morning, February 7th, on Fox 5 San Diego:
This summer, Larry will make his trek Aberdeen South Dakota home to Vermillion, South Dakota. Larry is lined up to speak to a different Parkinson’s Association of South Dakota support group at each day’s stop. During each visit of his 280 mile ride, Larry will share the joys and benefits of cycling for Parkinson’s sufferers.
Larry walks with some difficulty and needs a cane or a walker. However, when he’s on his bike, Larry says, “I don’t have Parkinson’s.” His bright red three-wheel recumbent Catrike in his hometown of Vermillion. Larry finds that it allows him the freedom to get around town more independently.
Recent research affirms that even advanced Parkinson’s patients are able to cycle with seeming ease and that vigorous exercise appears to improve functioning.
We wish Larry all the luck in the world and our prayers go before and with him for a safe and wonderful journey.
What do you do for exercise with PD? Share your experience.