Making something positive with Peloton4Parkinsons 'spin-raiser'
Eric Tostrud was spending the day with his mother Judy in 2016, eight years after she had been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, when an idea popped into his head.
Tostrud had recently received a Peloton bike as a gift from a group that had chipped in all together. Touched by the generosity, he was looking for a way to pay it forward.
As he watched his mother struggling to walk out of the house, he saw an opportunity to take the anger and pain of her struggle and transform it.
"We're going to funnel this energy," he told her, snapping a selfie with her to mark the moment.
That idea became Peloton4Parkinsons, an all-day stationary bike riding event that Tostrud now holds every year. The fourth annual event will be held Friday, April 26 at Riverfront Athletic Club. Rides start at 5 a.m. and go through 7 p.m.
"It started as a thing for myself to do something for my mom and raise money," he said.
This year's event takes on new meaning. Judy died the week before the fundraiser.
In past years Judy has joined her son on the bike, managing to ride for at least a time.
"This will be the first year actually that she hasn't ridden with me but I like to think she'll be riding with me all day now," Tostrud said.
Tostrud's mother was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2008. She was always a healthy, fit person, Tostrud said.
"My mom had abs before abs were a thing," he said.
She took care of herself, but still she got sick.
"She got dealt this crappy disease," Tostrud said. "It wasn't anything she had done."
The diagnosis angered Tostrud, but with Peloton4Parkinsons he's found a way to use that for something good.
"Everything's got energy, even anger and sadness and disappointment so I wanted to take this negative thing and make it into something positive," he said.
Tostrud wanted to do something that would challenge him. Peloton, the stationary bike that streams live workouts, offers classes all day from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., so Tostrud decided to take every class they offer to raise funds.
"I messaged a few people and said, 'Am I nuts?'" he said. They supported the idea, and he was ready to go.
The first year Tostrud set up in his garage with a few friends. People from the Peloton community joined him virtually, and continue to do so each year.
The format for this year's event has changed a bit. Virtual participants will still join in through Peloton, but there will also be live rides all day at Riverfront Athletic Club.
Tostrud said he wants to make the fundraiser more of a community event for the Hudson and River Falls area.
"This is something that's going on every year and I want it to get bigger and bigger every year to honor my mom, first and foremost for me, but there's a lot of people that have been touched by Parkinson's," he said.
Many people don't know just how devastating Parkinsons can be, Tostrud said. Others in the community know the impact personally.
"I want them to know there's a group for them and there's people that they can connect with," he said.
Funds raised from the event will go to Team Fox, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.
The funds raised from the event have grown each year. Last year Tostrud said they raised $22,400. This year they're taking on an even loftier goal of $50,000.
"It's really kind of been picking up speed and it's something I'm going to keep doing every year," he said.
Usually about 500 people join in, either in person or virtually. This year Tostrud said he would like to see a thousand.
Tostrud and a few others will be riding all day, but people are welcome to sign up for a single slot at Riverfront, a Peloton showroom, on their own Peloton bike or at a local spin class.
To register or donate visit Peloton4Parkinsons on Facebook.