DERRY — Susan Mollohan knew something was not quite right.
The Derry resident recalled feeling some trembling in her right hand while at work as a dean at Alvirne High School.
Months later, she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Now, Susan and Steven are taking to the road on a bicycling challenge to not only test their endurance, but also to help raise money to support research for the disease as part of the New England Ride Parkinson’s Ride Sept. 8 in Old Orchard Beach, Maine.
Proceeds go to support the Michael J. Fox Foundation, named for the actor who also suffers from the disease.
For Susan Mollohan, it’s a chance to do something good to help not only herself, but everyone else suffering from Parkinson’s.
She will ride the 50-mile course while her husband will take on the 100-mile challenge as part of their team, Suzy’s Shakers.
The two have been married less than a year, but share a love of cycling and now a deep-seated mission to help those with Parkinson’s.
Steven Mollohan has been a cyclist since he was a child and often rides for causes and missions.
Having Parkinson’s disease hit so close to his heart makes the upcoming ride all the more valuable.
“(Special events) never impacted me the way this ride impacts my spouse and me so significantly,” he said. “It adds an emotional feature, it’s very powerful. I feel motivated and I have so much gas left after the race I feel like I can give another 100.”
He said he would always be there to support his wife, no matter what direction her life takes her as she deals with Parkinson’s.
“She’s an inspiration to me,” he said.
Mollohan had to give up her job earlier this year due to the effects of the disease.
“I lost my fine motor skills,” she said. “That’s why I stopped working.”
She takes three different medicines, faithfully rides her bike, and practices yoga to keep her body and mind strong.
About 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with the degenerative neurological disorder each year. Most are men over the age of 60.
At 58, Mollohan said she wants to be a face behind the disease and give others hope.
“I had to put a face to it,” she said. “It’s not always a debilitated old person.”
Mollohan hopes people will learn more about Parkinson’s Disease and support her ride effort.
She said riding in the race sparks her commitment to not only her own health, but the overall cause.
“When I first did the ride, there’s something that triggered in me that day,” she said. “It just keeps you going. It’s more in the head, not the legs.”
Susan Mollohan said she has no way of knowing what lies ahead.
“This disease, there’s no way to know what’s coming down the pike,” she said.
To learn more about the New England Parkinson’s Ride or how to support Mollohan and her efforts, visit teamfox.com and search Suzy’s Shakers.