Youths’ 230-mile bike ride to benefit Southampton Parkinson’s movement gym

  • Luke Enright of Southampton, left, and Liam Reynolds of Westhampton pause from a ride last Monday on the Manhan Rail Trail in Southampton. They are planning to ride from Southampton to Provincetown to raise money for DopaFit Parkinson’s Movement Center in Southampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Liam Reynolds of Westhampton, left, and Luke Enright of Southampton pause from a ride last Monday on the Manhan Rail Trail in Southampton. They are planning to ride from Southampton to Provincetown to raise money for DopaFit Parkinson’s Movement Center in Southampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • DopaFit Parkinson’s Movement Center in Southampton has been closed due to the pandemic. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Liam Reynolds of Westhampton, left, and Luke Enright of Southampton ride last Monday on the Mahan Rail Trail in Southampton. They are planning to ride from Southampton to Provincetown to raise money for DopaFit Parkinson’s Movement Center in Southampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Liam Reynolds of Westhampton, left, and Luke Enright of Southampton pause from a ride last Monday on the Mahan Rail Trail in Southampton. They are planning to ride from Southampton to Provincetown to raise money for DopaFit Parkinson’s Movement Center in Southampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

For The Gazette
Published: 7/12/2020 6:35:11 PM

Though Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan is officially underway in Massachusetts, many fitness centers remain closed for the time being, with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic threatening to linger long after the commonwealth has fully reopened. DopaFit, a Parkinson’s movement gym in Southampton, is one such center.

Unlike other fitness centers, though, it has two determined young cyclists, a 230-mile cross-state fundraising trip, and a community of support behind it.

Luke Enright of Southampton and Liam Reynolds of Westhampton, both 16, have teamed up and planned a roughly 16-hour bike ride from Westhampton to Provincetown in support of DopaFit. Their campaign, called “P-town for Parkinson’s,” has already raised over $3,000 on GoFundMe in advance of their ride, which is scheduled to begin Monday morning.

For Enright and Reynolds, the connection to both DopaFit and the disease is personal. Enright’s mother, Mary, began volunteering at the gym about three years ago, which eventually turned into a full-time trainer position. Enright volunteers at the gym himself in his spare time, and has built a strong connection with its members.

“I have my own connection with the people, but I always hear stories from my mom, whether happy or sad … I’ve just grown to know more people at the gym,” Enright said. “Especially in the sad moments. If someone passes away from the community, they may not have been my family, but it feels like they were.”

Reynolds, meanwhile, has a connection to the gym through his grandfather, Norm Reynolds of Florence, who lives with Parkinson’s disease and is an active member of DopaFit. Norm is an avid hockey player, and regularly competed in pickup games until Parkinson’s began to debilitate his play.

But, because of DopaFit, Norm is fighting back.

“One of the things about Parkinson’s is there’s no cure; but what you can do is slow the advancement — and in some cases stop it — with exercise,” he said. “I found with the fitness program at DopaFit, that it slowed the advancement of these symptoms, and I was able to play hockey and skate longer than I thought I would be able to.

“Every winter we build a skating rink in the backyard here in Florence. Part of my reason for going to DopaFit is I want to go out to that rink in the next few years and skate with my grandkids.”

DopaFit offers dozens of workouts and exercises designed to combat the advancement of Parkinson’s. Common routines include boxing, jumping rope, and strength-building activities such as push-ups or squats. Yoga and art classes are offered regularly.

“DopaFit is more than just a gymnasium, it’s a family,” Norm said.

Some credit for the fundraising effort is owed to Enright’s father, who instilled a love of long-distance cycling in his son. A couple years ago, Luke grabbed his dad’s road bike and spent the day cycling with a friend. Fifty miles passed in a blink of an eye, and Luke was hooked — and in need of a ride back home.

Last year, Luke and his dad participated in the Pan Massachusetts Challenge, a 192-mile bike ride from Sturbridge to Provincetown. The event raises millions of dollars every year for patient care and research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

And now, Enright has spent the last few months sharing that love of cycling with Reynolds.

“At the start of COVID I really didn’t have much to do, so I started to work, and I decided that since getting my driver’s license would be delayed, I would save up and buy a bike,” Liam Reynolds said. “I worked a lot, I bought a bike, and never looked back. I love it so much.”

As the two began biking more and more, they set their sights on a cross-state trip, and knew that they had an opportunity to do something special at the same time.

“We set our sights on Provincetown for a trip, and I thought, ‘Why would we go on a trip this long without making it worth something?’” Enright said. “Then my mom brought up DopaFit, where she’s a trainer. Liam’s grandfather goes there, so it was like a perfect fit for both of us.”

The two launched the GoFundMe campaign on June 29 to begin raising funds. All proceeds are being raised directly for DopaFit, minus the cost of the trip itself. As of Friday, the campaign has raised over $3,200, with a goal of $10,000.

“I didn’t expect that we’d be able to raise over $3,000 this quickly, but we have,” Liam Reynolds said. “We did set ourselves a pretty lofty goal, but at this point it seems almost reasonable.”

Due to incoming weather later this week, Enright and Reynolds plan on departing Monday, leaving Westhampton at about 4 a.m., with hopes to be in Provincetown by nightfall.

“Seeing the people with Parkinson’s go to that gym and see that as their lifeline and their way to connect with friends is what makes me want to get on my bike,” Enright said. “Seeing how they fight — it gives me the courage and perseverance to do this for them.”

Visit their GoFundMe page at gofundme.com/f/dopafit.

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