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Michael J. Fox introduces us to athlete who's biking 14,000 miles for Parkinson's

by Scott Stump /  / Updated  / Source: TODAY

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Endurance athlete Sam Fox is about to show just how far he will go to raise money to combat Parkinson's disease — 14,000 miles, to be exact.

On Wednesday, he will begin the "Tour de Fox,'' a 14,000-mile journey of biking, hiking and climbing across the lower 48 states, to raise money for Team Fox of the Michael J. Fox Foundation to support cutting-edge research into Parkinson's disease.

The endurance athlete and the actor are not related, but they share the common goal of raising $1 million for the foundation during the three-month journey. Michael J. Fox has been living with Parkinson's since 1991, while Sam Fox's mother, Lucy, was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2000.

In 2011, Sam Fox, 27, ran the entire 2,650 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from Canada to Mexico to raise $300,000 for Team Fox, and in 2012 he ran 100 miles in 24 hours from Manhattan to Long Island to raise another $100,000 for Parkinson's research.

"When I was in my early twenties, I saw her symptoms progressing,'' he said on TODAY Tuesday. "I was out taking a run and I realized that maybe I have a knack for endurance stuff, and I wanted to try to use that to make an impact in her life."

Fox will not only travel 14,000 miles across 48 states on his bike, he also will climb the highest peak in each state. There also will be 100 events in 100 days to raise money, including opportunities for people to climb or bike along with Fox. People can also donate to the cause at Tourdefox.org.

"This is going to be a lot of fun,'' Fox said. "We're meeting hundreds of people out there in the Parkinson's community."

"It's chance for people with Parkinson's or having Parkinson's in their families to get together and be active with other families and other patients and own it and move forward,'' Michael J. Fox said.

The event is also special for TODAY's Willie Geist, whose father, journalist Bill Geist, has Parkinson's disease.

"I guess all of us of a certain age feel like we know Michael J. Fox in one way or another, maybe as Alex P. Keaton or as Marty McFly, but when my father told us he has Parkinson’s disease, I got to know Michael in an entirely different way,'' Geist told TODAY.com. "Our family, and millions of others, looked immediately to Michael as the brave, optimistic standard for what a life could look like with PD. I’m so proud now to call Michael a friend and to be a part of the Michael J. Fox Foundation, a collection of the most talented and relentlessly driven people in their fields, all working to find a cure.

"Sam Fox’s 14,000-mile, three-month-long 'Tour de Fox' is an absolutely staggering effort to raise money and attention for Parkinson’s. It makes me want to ice down my quads just thinking about it. Like my dad, Sam’s mother has the disease. Sam and I both know how important the fight is, and we’re both grateful the Michael J. Fox Foundation is in the trenches every day."

Follow TODAY.com writer Scott Stump on Twitter and Google+.

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