South Carolina man raises awareness for Parkinson’s disease
By Randy Parks
On April 15, Steve Quam, 66, pedaled away from Edisto Island, S.C., headed west. On Friday, Aug. 3, he arrived in Burns on his way to Newport, his final destination.
This is Quam’s second cross-country trip to raise awareness for Parkinson’s disease and in support of the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s.
Phinney is a former professional road bicycle racer whose career included two stage victories in the Tour de France and a bronze medal in the 1984 Olympics. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 40 and five years later started the foundation.
Quam’s trips are the result of himself being diagnosed with the disease about four years ago. Quam said he has always been an avid bicyclist, (as well as a fan of Phinney), and like most riders, had the dream of riding from coast to coast. “I figured it was something I would do when I retired, but then when I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and I realized that just having the vague dream wasn’t going to get it done,” he said. “I have benefited in a number of ways from the foundation and this is a way to give back.”
Quam’s itinerary depends on the lay of the land, as well as the distance between towns. One of the toughest stretches he encountered was the trip from Vale to Juntura. “Hills and headwinds are tough and that part had both,” Quam said. He took a rest the following day, only his fourth rest day of his ride, before heading out again.
Along the way, Quam receives support form churches and host families, which he appreciates.
When asked about the Burns to Bend leg, he stated it would be one of the biggest challenges. Quam’s son, Mikkel, who lives in Corvallis, and his girlfriend planned to head east and meet Quam somewhere along the way. They would then camp together for several days.
Quam said even though he is one of the slowest riders in his hometown, this shows that, “you don’t have to be anything special to go cross-country.” He also wants to inspire others afflicted with the disease to keep on living and doing the things they’ve always dreamed about.
The real highlight of the trip was when Quam passed through Boulder, Colo., and had a chance to meet Phinney. “He was an idol of mine before this ever happened, so you can imagine how I felt when he pumped up my tires and rode out with me for the day,” Quam said. “It was pretty special.”
Quam plans to reach Newport about the third week of August.
To track Quam’s progress or make a donation, visit: http://sqpd.us