Ian O’Brien lives in West Waterford, Ireland with his wife and two young daughters. He is approaching his 43rd birthday and was diagnosed with Early Onset Parkinson’s Disease almost five years ago at age 38. Ian says “Pre-diagnosis was the most difficult time, not knowing what was wrong with me. I had slight motor related symptoms, but it was the non-motor symptoms, especially depression and anxiety that really impacted my life.”
Ian’s reaction both to his diagnosis and since is incredibly inspirational. Exercise has many benefits in managing the symptoms and slowing the progression of this degenerating neurological condition. Ian has embraced this philosophy as a means of managing his Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and found hiking to be his sport of choice. This June, he is taking it to a new level with an inspiring fundraising and awareness adventure. The Eur-Up-Ian challenge.
Ian will visit all of the EU 27 countries, and the UK , and will scale each of their highest elevation points, all in just 28 days. A race around Europe scaling Mont Blanc, Mount Olympus, Ben Nevis and Carrauntoohil to name but a few.
His aims are:
- Raise positive awareness of Early Onset Parkinson’s Disease (EOPD) in Ireland and throughout Europe
- Promote and Fundraise for https://eopd.ie/ and the services available
- Connect with the EOPD network across Europe
- Promote the benefits of exercise for PD
“The idea to scale 28 country high points in 28 days came to me very early in my diagnosis. A good friend insisted I climb Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrauntoohil. It acted as a metaphor for me. If I can get to the top of Ireland then I can get on top of my diagnosis! This European adventure will hopefully spread that message to others living with Parkinson’s Disease in these 28 countries and beyond.”
Eur-Up-Ian starts in early June 2023 atop of Mont Blanc and finishes 28 days later, on top of Carrauntoohil in Kerry, Ireland – the very place Ian’s love for hiking began, since his diagnosis.
Ian is financially supporting himself through the event but greatly welcomes any support and sponsorship where possible. All donations raised will go to the charity Early Onset Parkinson’s Disease Ireland https://eopd.ie/