Pedaling for a good cause: Chamber ribbon cutting for Scarlett Parks Foundation Monday
July 16, 2017
Five-year-old Scarlett Parks will be the one holding the scissors Monday when the Tulare Chamber of Commerce highlights the foundation in her name with a ribbon cutting at Evolution’s Gym.
Scarlett’s grandfather, Don Searcy, is the driving force – actually the pedaling force – behind the Scarlett Parks Foundation. He created the organization to help bring awareness to and raise money for a cure to Rett Syndrome. He described Rett Syndrome as the “perfect storm of Autism, Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy and Parkinson’s Disease” all wrapped up in one young body.
Hear the Tulare Voice interview with Don Searcy below:
Scarlett starting showing signs of Rett Syndrome at 6 months of age. A year ago, Searcy decided to join a bicycle race to raise awareness about Rett Syndrome. He’s been pedaling ever since.
On Monday, the Chamber Ambassadors and community members will join Searcy and Scarlett at Evolutions Gym for the ribbon cutting and a four-hour fundraiser in the form of a spin-a-thon. Participants can sign up to join one of four, one-hour spin classes held in the gym’s atrium. Spin classes are a group exercise class involving stationary bikes. Participants will pay $20 to join the spin-a-thon, raising money for the foundation’s work. Many of the time slots are already accounted for, and Searcy said he plans to pedal the entire 4 hours.
Photos courtesy Scarlett Parks Foundation
Rett Racers Interview
August 2016: Don Searcy
Don Searcy may be a grandfather but he is full of spunk and fire. Don is the grandfather to Scarlett, a beautiful 4-year-old with Rett syndrome. On September 17th, Don will be participating in the Tehachapi Gran Fondo event, a bicycle race that is 104 miles long. He will ride the first 100 miles alone (no easy feat!) and then finish the last 4 miles with Scarlett hitched on in tow! We are so impressed with Don’s enthusiasm and love for his granddaughter that we wanted to feature him as our “Rett Racer of the Month”. We asked Don a few questions about the race and his family. Read his answers below.
- Tell us what Riding for Rett is and what inspired you to do it?
Back a year ago my idea of a bike ride, strolling with my wife and sometimes Scarlett in tow, was down to the local coffee house and home. Then one day, I realized that my darling little granddaughter may never be able to walk or talk to us, let alone ride a bike. That’s when I decided that I needed to move forward and do my part to find a cure for Rett syndrome. I shared that I wanted to ride my bike to raise money, for this cure, with my daughter and wife. Now at 58 years old and out of shape, my wife told me that if I didn’t train and get in condition, I couldn’t ride. She didn’t want to me to go out and hurt myself. So I started this journey to ride and ride and ride some more until I reached a goal of 500 miles in 3 months. I worked hard and was able to complete the 500 miles with two weeks to spare. At that point, I signed up for the Tehachapi Gran Fondo, 104-mile race and started my quest to Ride4Rett. It’s kind of funny, while on this journey, I asked my daughter if her dad was crazy? Here I am, a 58 year old man on a borrowed bike, riding and training like it was the Olympics. She said probably, but every time I look into Scarlett’s eyes, I know the reason that I’m putting in mile after mile.
- Tell us about your granddaughter and your relationship:
Scarlett is my eldest granddaughter, of two, that has captured all of our hearts with what she is going through. Every time she’s around us her eyes and smile tells us how much she loves us. She loves to swim, with a flotation device, and do motorboat, loves ice cream and pizzy (pizza). Although she loves to ride in her little trailer, behind the bike, she’s unable to train with me because she lives 2 hours away.
- What do you hope to accomplish by participating in this event?
It is my goal to not only bring awareness to Rett syndrome but to raise money to help find a cure. It’s my hope that Scarlett will qualify for a clinical trial, if mommy and daddy approve, to see her progress and have hope to hear “I love you” come from her lips. It would be my joy for her to come running into my arms and give me a big hug.
Our goal is for $100,000 to help find the cure, but with all the girls & boys affected all over the world, I am hopeful that we would raise over $1,000,000. Since Rett syndrome is not limited to the United States, with my crowdfunding campaign, I am hopeful we will obtain worldwide donations as well.
Who knows what a cure for Rett Syndrome will accomplish, maybe it will unlock a drug or treatment for Autism, Cerebral Palsy or more. https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/riding4rett
- Anything else we should know?
I didn’t go into this to change the world, just help. If we can break the Rett barrier, then who knows what our Rett Angels can accomplish. I don’t know if I’ll ride any more races after this one, but if it’s in God’s plan, I will ride as much as I can to raise money and awareness until a cure is found.