Game day routines for San Antonio FC Head Coach Darren Powell are usually pretty similar. They involve a long morning run to clear his mind and prepare for the night’s match. He runs through tactics and strategy in his head over and over ahead of the night’s challenge. After his father, Trevor, was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, however, Coach Powell’s pregame runs are about to take a new and even more significant meaning.
Starting in April, which is Parkinson’s Awareness month, Powell will participate in five 5K races throughout the remainder of the USL season. Each run will take place the morning of a home SAFC match, which Powell will run in honor of his father and with the goal to raise awareness for Parkinson’s Disease and Parkinson’s research.
“I want to try and help my father because he’s always been an inspiration to me in my life and career path,” Powell said. “With the distance being so far away and me being unable to visit regularly, I wanted to make sure that we could raise awareness. Prior to my father’s diagnosis, I didn’t know much about the disease, but I’ve seen the effects from a personal perspective and wanted to make sure that we could send a message to my family, and others who are going through similar things, that we’re fighting the battle with them.”
Powell is an avid runner, and wanted to combine his efforts of raising awareness in the local community with something that is personally meaningful. The result was the idea to run one 5K per month, inviting those in the community who are interested in joining the cause to register and run alongside the SAFC gaffer for Parkinson’s Awareness.
“I typically run on game days,” Powell said. “So, we’re looking at doing at different runs on game days that can not only raise awareness for Parkinson’s, but maybe some other causes that those runs are in aid of.”
Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative disorder, and affects people in many different ways, causing both motor and non-motor symptoms like tremors, slowness of movement, fatigue, cognitive changes, among many others.
For Powell, participating in these runs is a way to not only raise awareness, but join his father in the fight against Parkinson’s. Powell’s father is actively part of a group of people who suffer from Parkinson’s back home in England, and meets regularly with the group to talk about their experience dealing with the disease, its symptoms, and how it affects their every-day life. They also participate in physical activities that help deal with PD.
“My father fights every day,” Powell said. “You probably wouldn’t know he has Parkinson’s, but he fights every day, and does his exercises. He’s been able to inspire me my whole life, so hopefully we can continue to help him fight this battle.
“To be able to combine running and awareness for Parkinson’s is important to me. A lot of people have the disease and obviously they’re looking for different cures and treatments, so we want to try and raise that awareness and combine it with that healthy lifestyle (of running) for the cause.”
With the month of April marking Parkinson’s Awareness month, the first race Coach Powell will participate in will be the Dash to the VTO (Valero Texas Open), which will take place on Saturday, April 14 at 9 a.m. at TPC San Antonio. Anyone interested in raising awareness for Parkinson’s research for the millions of people who suffer from the disease by running with Darren can register here. For those who wish to make a donation towards Parkinson’s Research, they may do so through the Michael J. Fox foundation here.