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From Cowles To Kilimanjaro, San Diego Parkinson’s Patients Climb For A Cure


Aired 7/4/11

A weekend hike on Cowles Mountain brought some Parkinson’s patients a step closer to climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa.

— A handful of San Diego hikers, including some with Parkinson’s disease plan to climb 19,339 feet up Mt. Kilimanjaro in September.

Brad Arens is a 57-year-old hiker who has Parkinson’s, a disease that causes involuntary movements and loss of muscle control.

But the disease hasn’t stopped Arens and a handful of other Parkinson’s patients from months of grueling training hikes—that often come to a screeching halt mid-way up a mountain.

“As long as I keep moving I’m fine. If I stop moving I freeze up and it takes awhile to get going again. So I just got to keep moving and make it to the top,” said Arens, describing one of the effects of his disease.

The group routinely does 12 mile (or more) hikes to prepare for the Africa climb, like the one they took over the weekend at Cowles Mountain overlooking Lake Murray.

But Arens said he’s still a little nervous about tackling Kilimanjaro.

“It’s going to be tough enough without Parkinson’s so, I’m a little bit nervous. But, it’s going to be a chance of a lifetime and we’re really quite excited about it.”

Arens will be joined on the Africa climb by a few other Parkinson’s patients and about a dozen family members, friends, a doctor and nurse practitioner.

All of the money raised by the hikers will go to “Climbing For A Cure,” a fund raising project for non-embryonic stem cell research on Parkinson’s at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla.

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