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Pedaling for Parkinsons' Legendary Pioneer Steps Down

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October 3, 2022, Denver, CO

Diagnosed with Parkinsons more than twenty years ago, John Carlin spent most of his time thereafter helping others with the disease learn how to get the most out of life.  A leader and a pioneer, he’s become as much a legend around the country as he has in the Denver Parkinson’s community.


John discovered the work of Dr. Jay Alberts during a visit to the Cleveland Clinic in 2009. Following that meeting, John was invited to participate in a clinical study to determine the effects of long distance cycling on people living with Parkinsons.  Little did he know, he had agreed to ride the Registers Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa — more commonly referred to as the RAGBRAI (pronounced: rag br-eye).


For John, the experience was life changing.  Each summer, for the next 10 years, he returned to Iowa to join the growing list of riders with Parkinson’s — all reporting that after a few days on the bikes, their symptoms seemed to go away!  It became clear they were on the brink of an incredible discovery that would change the lives of people living with Parkinsons.


Instrumental in recruiting participants for the ongoing clinical studies, John worked with Nan Little set up the first Pedaling for Parkinson’s programs in Seattle and in Denver. They developed a relationship with the YMCA of America that would put PFP in cycling studios across the country, and for nearly 15 years, they combined to establish more than 150 PFP sites nationwide and helped establish the program’s integrity and brand.  Leveraging his career experience, he introduced the first marketing initiatives and establish a basic business structure for the organization.


With their children starting their adult lives, John and Martha decided to return to their roots in central Kentucky.  Though he hasn’t slowed down much, he decided to step away from his volunteer position with PFP to focus on getting settled in their new home, pay more attention to his health and simply enjoy the things he loves to do. John is quick to point out that he has not resigned and he plans to remain close to PFP in an advisory role.  According to Alberts, PFP is like a family, and you can’t resign from family.  So, we’ll continue to look to John for his advice and insights.


John, on behalf of Pedaling for Parkinson’s community and all those you’ve inspired, thank you for your tireless effort, passion to help others, and of course, your endless humor!   

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