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'Exciting to be part of something bigger than me': Idaho woman rides to Maine and back for Parkinson's awareness

Joni Pursell took her motorcycle across the country and back to honor those dealing with Parkinson’s disease.

MERIDIAN, Idaho — Joni Pursell has been riding her motorcycle for many years now. She decided to take a long 8,000-mile ride in May.

"I wasn't thinking that big. I was just thinking I want to go to Maine and have lobster,” Pursell said.

Joni’s long adventure was much more than just another ride. She says the people she met along the way made her trip worth the journey.

"It was really exciting to be a part of something bigger than me. What was life changing were the little kids and people,” she said.

Pursell rode for the many people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease including the grandfather of Blake Simmons, the manager of Simmon’s Fine Jewelry in Meridian.

"Parkinson's is a disease that starts with tremors. It takes your mobility. It really affects your body and really robs you of your freedom to do as you choose,” Simmons said. "It basically put him in a wheelchair to where he was hunched over and couldn't do much of anything on his own. It was a miserable experience to watch him go through that.”

That’s why Blake proposed the idea for Simmons Fine Jewelry to sponsor Pursell's ride with the goal of raising money and awareness for Parkinson’s disease.

"We wanted to make it really accessible for people to donate, to learn about the cause, and really to give her an extra sense of purpose behind what she was doing on this incredible journey,” Simmons said.

After learning about Blake’s grandfather and her friend with Parkinson’s disease, Joni says she accepted without hesitation.

"You accept the risk because the passion is so big. People are curious by nature. So, this gave them the opportunity to with all the wraps gave them the opportunity to have a conversation and you learn how many people struggle with this in their family or themselves,” she said.

Since Joni’s ride, they have raised over $15,460 and Blake says donations are still being accepted.

"Parkinson’s really doesn't have a cure. There is care for it, but there is no cure. All these funds that we're raised and all the people that made donations the funds have been donated to local hospitals and foundations where we can help,” Simmons said.

Pursell says the money will go to St. Luke’s Parkinson center and the YMCA’s Kick Boxing program. She says this is the start of many more rides in the future.

"You don't know, but you're touching so many lives because it wasn't a lot of big money. It was small amounts and we still raised a tremendous amount,” she said.

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