“You don’t know if you can do it, (yet) you put everything into the accomplishment,” he said of his renewed commitment to running. “And then you realize, “What can’t you do?’ I never thought I could do this before Parkinson’s, much less with Parkinson’s. It was OK to risk failing at something to see what I was capable of, and it was just an amazing feeling.”
Bucklew’s performances may have been marvels of persistence, but were not, by his own admission, things of beauty, as the effects of Parkinson’s gradually became more apparent.
“My right leg is like a peg leg, very stiff, and I have dystonia in my left foot, like a curling motion,” he said. “To see me run is pretty brutal; I’m not the most elegant runner you can imagine. It puts stress on my left knee’s soft tissue; I put almost twice as much effort into running as I did before.”
When Bucklew looked ahead to a day when long-distance running would become impossible, he focused on a slower, but equally bold, new goal – breaking the record for the quickest walk across the United States. The resulting journey began in Tybee Island, Georgia in November 2017 and concluded just over two months later in San Diego, in January 2018, with Bucklew raising a reported $120,000 for Parkinson’s research, then relating his experiences in a TEDx talk in Chicago.