Kathryn ĎNaní Little

Country of residence:








Retired anthropologist

Who is accompanying you on the Kilimanjaro climb?


Husband, Doug Little

When were you diagnosed with Parkinsonís disease?



February 2008

How has your diagnosis affected your life?


At first it was devastating. Within a year I learned about the program developed by Dr. Jay Alberts at the Cleveland Clinic called Pedaling for Parkinsonís. After a month of intensive cycling following his protocols my symptoms were nearly gone. Since then I have taken on challenges I never would have dreamed of and I have a new purpose in helping others mitigate their disease through cycling.

What is your current level of physical disability (if any)?



I have a slight tremor in my left hand and arm and cramps in one finger on my right hand on occasion.

Please provide a history of your disease and how the disease is now affecting your life?



I noticed problems about a year before diagnosis. I tried several medications, which were problematic. After diagnosis, I switched to ReQuip XL and have been able to cut my medication in half since cycling. Due to the cycling, I am much fitter since having the disease, I pay more careful attention to my diet. I also have a different focus. In a way, the disease is kind of like a sparring partner, something Iím fighting but which is making me stronger and more able to deal with unexpected, difficult challenges.

What are your current views/feelings of your life with Parkinsonís disease?




Although I would rather not have the disease, quite frankly, it has opened new doors and new ways of understanding that are good. I enjoy working with others to set up Pedaling for Parkinsonís programs to hopefully make a difference in the lives of thousands of people. I donít have a choice about having the disease, but I do choose how I respond to it.

How have your relationships with your family/personal/friend relationships been affected by your diagnosis?


People are more open now about expressing their feelings. I am supported by all manner of people, which is heartwarming. I know Iím not in this alone. Weíre closer and more aware that every single day counts.

What has motivated you to take part in the Kilimanjaro climb?



I was asked and I like challenges and adventure. I also thought it was a good way to communicate that life doesnít have to end with a diagnosis of PD or MS. Each day is an opportunity to live beyond my expectations. Why not?

What is your previous experience of hiking/climbing?



Not much. I belong to a womenís hiking group that does something not too stressful each week. I backpacked a little when I was younger.

What are your aspirations/hopes for the Kilimanjaro climb?



I hope we all make it to the top. I think Iíll make some wonderful new friends. Iíll learn a lot about MS. I hope our story inspires others, even if we donít know about them. I hope itís not cloudy at the top! 

What hopes/aspirations do you have planned following the Kilimanjaro climb?



Iím working with Pedaling for Parkinsonís and the YMCA to set up PFP at the Y programs around the country. Iím eager to ride RAGBRAI with PFP again next summer. And Iím eager to get back fly fishing on favorite rivers.

Please highlight any other achievements you have made since your diagnosis



Iíve ridden my bike across Iowa twice in the Registerís Annual Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) with the PFP group. I never thought I could do that but I did. It gave me courage to try Mt. Kilimanjaro.

What would you say to other people who are living with PD?



It used to be dark at the end of the tunnel. Now thereís light if you choose to go for it. PD changed your life; it didnít change who you are. If you had courage and determination before, you still have it.