Team Parkinson Participates in the First Resolution Fest

On what was, for Southern California at least, a cold and damp New Year’s morning, John and Edna Ball were up early and on their way to the Santa Monica Pier for the first ever Resolution Festival. The sky was full with a heavy overcast, but the LA freeways were unusually empty, even for a holiday. It was Sunday, January 1, 2006 and because it was a Sunday, there was no Rose Parade that morning, nor would there be a football game that afternoon. For most people the day was free from major commitments. Because of the unique situation, Laurence Cohen had conceived the idea of the Festival just seven months prior to the event. Over those months he had worked diligently to bring together an inspired and inspiring group of people to demonstrate their commitment to fulfilling their individual goals and resolutions.

John Ball

The Festival included three major events, a 5k Soft Sand Run, a 10,000 Step Walk, and a half-mile Polar Bear Swim in the Pacific Ocean. Each event was to be led by an athlete who Laurence felt had demonstrated perseverance and courage in their athletic activities. John Ball of Team Parkinson was one of three inspiring individuals selected to lead the Soft Sand Run. John has completed a total of 13 marathons after his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease in 1983, and has run the LA marathon the last ten consecutive years. Also included were ultra-marathon runner Dean Karnazes and one of last year’s winners of the popular TV show, The Biggest Loser, Gary Deckman. The 10,000 Step Walk was led by LA’s oldest marathoner, Ernie Van Leeuwen, 92, who didn’t begin running until he was 57, and finished his first marathon in 1995 at age 82. The half-mile Polar Bear swim was to be led by a 15 year-old from Del Mar, California, Roy Perkins, Jr. Roy is a member of the U. S Paralympics and holds several national and international swim records for challenged athletes.

The weather, which started out merely gloomy, intensified through the morning, and finally turned to a cold, hard rain which drove most casual participants off the pier. Unfortunately, the weather also forced LA County lifeguards to cancel the Polar Bear
Swim due to heavy surf conditions and a significant undertow. As the rain began falling, awards were being handed out by age-group to the top finishers in the Soft Sand Run; with John Ball taking a second place in the men’s 60-64 category.

The Resolution Festival also included several speakers and at least one awe-inspiring singer whose unaccompanied rendition of “The Impossible Dream” brought chills to the spines of many in the moderate-sized crowd on the pier that morning. In addition to the competitive events, there were twenty-five stationary bicycles available throughout the day, courtesy of 24-Hour Fitness Centers, the event’s premier sponsor, and “spinning” coaches ready to help anyone who wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.

Each participant at the Resolution Festival could choose to direct $10.00 of the registration fees to one of the five charities Cohen had selected for the event, including Team Parkinson. The event drew a smaller than hoped-for crowd because of the weather and the revenues for Team Parkinson will therefore be limited, but the uplifting nature of the event, and the “no excuses” philosophy behind it, will probably bring Team Parkinson back next year. And a special salute to both Mary Yost who worked all morning in the booth and Ann Eckles who ran the Soft Sand Run for braving the conditions and supporting Team Parkinson.

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