As Oro Valley resident Payton Davies competed in the El Tour de Tucson this past weekend, she had the thoughts of her husband and numerous friends and family on her mind, just as she did every day she trained and has done in six El Tour de Tucson races.
Davies, who has raised more than $23,000 for the American Parkinson Disease Association’s Arizona (APDA), is very familiar with the disease, as her husband Bob had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s six years ago.
Payton, 69, and Bob, 76, came to Tucson from Texas around the time Bob was diagnosed with the disease. With little to no time to train and prepare for the race, Payton rode in her first El Tour de Tucson race because she discovered the race contributes to Parkinson’s Disease. In doing so, she raised $1,500 six years ago.
She particularly donates to APDA Arizona, www.APDAArizona.org, because it helps subsidize exercise programs.
“We feel that exercise is the best way to keep people with Parkinson’s strong and healthy,” Payton said. “And we have a very excellent exercise group at Sun City Oro Valley.”
The exercise and therapy group offered in Sun City Oro Valley aims to help people stay on track with regular exercise routines.
Payton runs a support group that, in addition to connecting people with others in the community who are dealing with the same issues, is a network for recommendations for local doctors, care givers, and information on the different medications for different types of the disease.
“(APDA) funds back to Sun City because so many people from Sun City have contributed to my effort,” Payton said. “They send the funds back to the exercise group.”
With the variability of Payton’s schedule dependent so much on her husband’s current and recent conditions, she usually has trains alone. And in doing so, she keeps to riding certain loops around her home at Desert Springs Gracious Retirement Living. She is always sure to be at the most 30 minutes away in case she needs to return home.
Again, even while she is away, her mind never leaves home. And when she is organizing something, it is usually for her support group that she runs.
“I guess I feel like I have something to offer,” Payton said. “I like to see how happy people are when I bring in a good speaker to the support group. Everyone that is in the Sun City Oro Valley support and exercise group has been behind me in the race every year. And they are always thrilled with what I do and that encourages me on.”
Knowing how important exercise is to those who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, Payton stays active, riding three times a week, going for 10 to 15 mile rides with an occasional 25-mile ride, all in preparation for the El Tour de Tucson.
“I tell them how important exercise is, so I guess it is my way of saying that my exercise is going to help the people with Parkinson.”
Even though the race has passed, if you would like to donate to Payton and APDA Arizona, you can do so by going to Payton4APDA.org.