KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knoxville man with Parkinson’s disease is preparing to climb one of the tallest mountains in the world.
Justin Fields is determined to make that climb and show others that anything is possible. Fields was devastated when he got the diagnosis of Early-Onset Parkinson’s back in 2016.
“Since the diagnosis, it was rough for the first several years,” Fields said. “Anytime you have to take a medication that is basically subsiding one particular symptom in hopes that further down the line you won’t have other symptoms, it’s kind of a tough pill to swallow. I didn’t have a good reaction to the medication and gained close to 40-50 pounds.”
Despite the setbacks from the medication, Justin was able to take steps forward thanks to new technology.
“I was lucky enough to get deep brain stimulation surgery in 2019 and since then it’s been great,” Fields said. “I have no tremors right now. I can go through and adjust basically artificial dopamine levels every single day. If I’m having a bad day I can turn it up and turn it back down.”
Sunday, June 7th, Justin was put on a list for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa.
“I have always wanted to summit the top hat of Africa. I’ve always wanted to try and summit Kilimanjaro and this is my opportunity,” Fields said. “Team Fox has been a fantastic supporter of me trying to obtain my goal.”
Fields isn’t just doing this for himself. His journey is to raise awareness for Parkinson’s and will also benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
“I will hopefully be hosting a couple of athletic tournaments and a raffle here or there to chip away at that overall goal and making sure that people are getting the full focus of awareness as I go,” Fields said.
Fields is living his life by a quote from Muhammad Ali that is appropriate for his new challenge; “It’s not the mountain ahead that wears you down, but the pebble in our shoe.”
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He views his Parkinson’s as that pebble and is not going to let that get in the way of living his life to the fullest.