Diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2008 at age 46, Carl Ames of Peoria, Arizona refuses to let the effects of the disease keep him from living life to the fullest and encouraging others to do the same. A father of five and grandfather of two, Carl believes in living well by staying healthy, a regimen that for him involves a strong commitment to exercise, positivity and helping everyone he can along the way.
Exercise has become essential in Carl’s daily life with Parkinson’s. He credits the Pedal Over Parkinson’s (POP’S) Ride with helping him discover cycling. “I quickly learned that being active gave me temporary respite from Parkinson’s,” Carl explains. “When I was riding or moving, I didn’t feel like I had anything wrong with me.”
Connecting with POP’s Ride soon opened up other exercise opportunities for Carl. He has since participated in a variety of cycling events around Arizona, sprint triathlons, and completed a 78-mile cycling ride in the Colorado Rockies with his son.
Attitude is Everything
A positive and open attitude is another key component for Carl. “I’m surrounded by positive people that want to do good, which helps me to be involved and embrace everything that’s good about Parkinson’s, and to do what I can to help others,” he says. Since his diagnosis, Carl has created or found many opportunities for help support his community. Carl has founded a non-profit with a friend dedicated to providing bicycles, helmets and basketballs to underprivileged youth, serves on the board of the National Parkinson Foundation Arizona Chapter, organized a “Peddling Pancakes for Parkinson’s” fundraising breakfast, leads a Young-Onset Parkinson’s support group, continues to cycle around the city and has learned that “strangers are not strangers.”
Many commend Carl’s “infectious attitude,” and his view that adversity is simply an opportunity to educate people about Parkinson’s and living life to the fullest.
I’ve learned how important it is to take advantage of a humbling situation, someone opening a door or walking me to my car. You never know how you might help someone else. – Carl
Carl’s friend and fellow person living with Parkinson’s, Brian Baehr adds, “anytime I am with Carl he finds an opportunity to help someone up who is down with some form of setback. These people Carl touches are not just people with Parkinson’s, but anybody who needs some uplifting. He may be personally feeling very “off,” but that never keeps him from smiling or offering to help.”
Carl sums up his philosophy for living with Parkinson’s and making the most of each day by saying, “I don’t wish Parkinson’s on anyone, but I wish everyone could have the opportunity to experience the things that I have experienced with Parkinson’s, and more importantly, experience the love, compassion and generosity coming from wonderful family, friends and strangers that I am able to experience these things with!”
Carl Ames is part of our cohort of Davis Phinney Foundation Ambassadors. Our Ambassadors are volunteers who share resources and information throughout their local and regional communities to help people take action and improve their quality of life with Parkinson’s. Connect with one of our Ambassadors and begin your journey today of living well with Parkinson’s!
Share Your Victory
Each month, we spotlight someone from our Parkinson’s community who embodies living well today – what we call Moments of Victory®.
Your story, like Carl’s, could be featured on our blog and Facebook page so others can learn from your experiences and victories.