I wonder what Michael thought when I asked if we could meet up with him during our upcoming road trip. More than that, I wonder what he thought when I asked if he would arrange a guided fishing trip to enjoy together.
Michael Fahning is an Ambassador for the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinsons. He has been living well with the disease for 20 years.
I also am a DPF Ambassador. This is not where I met Michael. I actually met him on a social media page where he was seeking information about the Registers Annual Great Bicycle Across Iowa. Having just registered for the week long cycling event and seeing his question come up I typed a quick note. I told him about signing up with Dr. Jay Alberts’ Team “Pedaling for Parkinsons”. Jay was doing research and had discovered how a certain formula of pedaling decreased the symptoms of Parkinsons by 30 percent. Michael was jazzed by the research and by the team and he signed up.
Michael and I became friends on social media sites. Yet you can learn only so much be reading posts. So last Friday night after fishing on Moose Lake we sat by a campfire admiring a beautiful starry sky. I asked Michael further questions about his life. The top thing on his list is gratitude. Michael told me he wakes up every day thanking God for all he has. I learned he is dedicated father to his three (now adult) sons. His deep family ties were reinforced by his recent move to the Minneapolis area. This put Michael in a better housing situation. With that he has his complete immediate family within an hours drive. He sees them regularly.
Michael’s involvement in the Parkinsons community has been long lasting. He enjoys meeting in person, one and one or in small groups. He has helped others by modeling bicycling skills and Nordic walking. And he takes several fishing trips a year! More important than sharing his love of outdoor activities, Michael’s calm nature invites friendship.
I learned how to catch a muskie, how to ride safely in a lake fishing boat, and how reaching out to someone you know a little can strengthen friendships a lot.