The Fight of His Life – Bill London Boxes (and fundraises) to Live Well with Parkinson’s

Bill London boxes at the Corner Boxing Gym

Written by Coe London

The Challenge is ON!!!  

After two years of boxing regularly with the Parkinson’s group at the Corner Boxing Club in Boulder, Colorado, and regular private sessions with various trainers, my husband, Bill, was ready to step up to yet another challenge: Founder Fights. In this event, each participant is matched with an opponent of equal age and weight. They then box three, one minute rounds.  

In order to meet this challenge, Bill faced a rigorous training program. And fundraising program as the coaches wanted him and each participant to raise $ 5,000 for their designated charity.  Choosing our charity was easy—The Davis Phinney Foundation. They are the Foundation that originally hooked us up with the Corner Boxing Club and linked us up with so many valuable resources in order to live well with Parkinson’s!! Exactly how we were going to raise the money was the big question.

The Ask

There’s a certain fear about raising money. I’ve always felt the fear was a result of the unknown.  And, asking friends to support you and your cause perhaps presents even more of a risk. But like anything worth doing, you have to dive in, evaluate how best to do it and just go for it.   

Several people had suggested that we raise our money through a website. Or social media. I understand how convenient this is; however, I knew many of our donors (at 60 years plus) were not tech savvy. Secondly, I felt that in using social media we wouldn’t really be able to tell our story. And, third, as easy as it is to send an email or post on FB, it’s equally as easy for the recipient to not give right away and then totally forget about the request.

So, we took a different route. I wrote the letter telling Bill’s story of his diagnosis and how as a long time fan of boxing, he was intrigued with the possibility of starting to box to slow or possibly reverse his symptoms. It didn’t take long for him to see the results—the boxing actually alleviated his tremors and he emerged from class feeling normal and motivated to do more. He was having fun and enjoying so many new friends and support.

In the letter, I also included a concise paragraph about Davis Phinney and the Foundation and all of their good work, and I enclosed a bookmark with their contact information on it. Another paragraph was dedicated to Corner Boxing—the credentials of the coaches and the tremendous success of their Parkinson’s boxing classes.  

The letter was a page and a half. I did not ask for a specific amount. The letter was signed by Bill and I hand wrote a short note asking people to join me in supporting Bill and Davis Phinney.  In order to make it as easy as possible to send in that check, I enclosed a self-addressed, stamped envelope. (This is a little thing that goes a very long way.)

The Response

Bill and I then developed our mailing list by discussing why we would send a letter to each person and the possibilities they might give. The time and energy we put into this were not wasted and it was critical to our success. We sent out 70 letters and by the time the fight rolled around, 90% of the people (63) made a donation!!

The positive response and outpouring of support was and continues to be, truly amazing. We far exceeded our goal of $5000 by raising $18,255, with some more promised gifts coming in. Bill also had the great distinction of being the top fundraiser for Founder Fights.

Watch when they introduce Bill at the fights.

The most fabulous part is that we not only received checks but letters along with them. Letters of support and well wishes. Letters we’ll save and reread many times.

I’ve chosen to include some of the comments we received in letters and verbally once we made our ask. I think this reveals a lot about why people gave.

  • Some commented that they didn’t even know that Bill had Parkinson’s. They were appreciative of hearing about how well he is managing the disease.
  • Many were moved by his willingness to undertake a new skill sport and the fact he was actually challenging himself to compete was over the top. They seemed to love the pro-active approach he was taking to the diagnosis.  
  • Many just loved the story—hearing how everything had evolved for Bill.
  • Many commented about Davis Phinney and connected with the good work the Foundation is doing.
  • Several people commented how refreshing it was to receive a letter in the mail (snail mail) instead of finding out about it in a passing blurb on social media.  
  • Several people who gave—some with very generous donations—were familiar with Parkinson’s. They had a family member who has or had it.  

The Follow Up

I believe you can’t thank people enough so a follow-up plan was at the top of our list. Here’s what we did…

  • Bill hand wrote thank you notes to everyone who gave money
  • We gave about 10 books about Davis Phinney to the supporters who we thought would love to read the book
  • I emailed everyone after the match to thank them and share the videos that Chris took

Round One

Round Two

Round Three

The Belt Presentation

What’s Next

What is important here is this. We are all unique. We all have our unique stories. And, it is my belief that every single one of you with Parkinson’s has not only a unique story but also a compelling one.  

I encourage you to tell your story. Tell your story to the people who have mattered in your life, people with whom you have connected. Don’t be afraid to ask those people to support you and a cause that is making your life better. Find a challenge for yourself. Do it and write about it. Share it—your friends would love to hear about it. And, I guarantee you will love hearing from them. Finally, the very best fundraising scenario is to find someone who will match everything you can raise!!  

The recipient of your efforts—the Davis Phinney Foundation—will help you. They have helped thousands of people with Parkinson’s lead an immensely higher quality of life. They have helped people help themselves. And they have truly connected this community. Who could not lend their support to an organization like this!!!

Fight the fight. For yourself. And, for Davis Phinney.  

Bill and Krista Founder Fights Blog
Bill London and Krista Ingle – Both raised money for the Davis Phinney Foundation at Founder Fights


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Comments (2)

H J Scheiber, PhD

I participate in the “Rock Steady Boxing” program in Livingston, NJ which takes place at the Ambulatory Care Center of St. Barnabas Hospital. I’ve worked hard learning the basics of boxing as have many of my Parkinsonian (PD) colleagues and friends … men and women, those mildly afflicted & those with more profound manifestations of the disease and . Most of us attend the program two hours – two full sessions -every week (though we can add additional classes) with a wide variety of exercises readying us for punching all kinds of bags (heavy, light, & a few other training bags as well).

I know I feel much better all around after a rigorous session, coupled with my own personal training program when not attending boxing class.

Because of our “Rock Steady Boxing” program, we all seem to be getting into solidly better shape than those not involved – improving our balance, strength, dexterity, and coordination. Because we all walk and kick and stretch, and punch as hard
as we can in our training classes.

Our boxing and the exercises we do along with learning how to box seem to mitigate our visible and voluntary movements and, slowly but surely, reduce our PD symptomology, too. Would you believe that my handwriting has improved from boxing training and appears stronger, clearer, more emphatic. But that’s only one small but important issue for those of us with PD. We’re all gaining strength and confidence and getting into really great shape. I know I hit the big bags pretty hard, very regularly, for a 72-year-old, and just feel tough and strong in class and outside … like I am single-handedly doing my part to defeat our common “enemy,” PD … and to conquer its insidious growth and remaining mysteries.

Thank you for sharing your story and inspiring experience with boxing! We have heard from many members in our community about the positive impact boxing classes have had on not only fitness but balance, coordination and other motor symptoms. If you’d like to offer more insight into your experience with boxing, we invite you to consider filling out our Moments of Victory form. Keep up the good work, and keep fighting!

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