Michael J. Fox continues fight to cure Parkinson's

April 14, 2011 4:48:20 AM PDT
Michael J. Fox is shining a new light on Parkinson's disease research.

Eyewitness News entertainment reporter Sandy Kenyon talked to the star about his public struggle with the disease and the new efforts of his charity.

April is Parkinson's Awareness Month, with the Empire State Building lit up in orange and white to honor the foundation started by Fox after he was diagnosed with the disease.

Fox and his 9-year-old daughter Esme lit up the building as part of an official salute to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.

"The fact it's this structure, this accomplishment, that was seemingly impossible and the result of a lot of people working hard to get it done is kind of what we're all about too," Fox said. "So it's a nice symbol."

Fox spoke to Eyewitness News before a dinner to thank supporters, who raise millions for his non-profit organization at various events.

"We're built for speed, and we're just relentless," Fox said. "We have no agenda other than to get this done. And we're going to get this done no matter what it takes."

Finding a cure for Parkinson's disease has taken a lot longer than Team Fox once hoped.

"I don't get discouraged," he said. "It's certainly a fact of science - science is hard. Science is hard, and you have a thousand failures for every success. But without those failures, you can't have success."

Success is now more likely, thanks to his efforts, but he is not one to take much credit for that.

"At the very most, I've been a spark," he said. "But I didn't provide the firewood. Everybody else did."

These days, it's easy to forget Fox denied he had Parkinson's for many years, and he had to recover from the disease of alcoholism first.

"If I didn't get off the party train, I think I wouldn't have had a clear enough mind to figure this out," he said. "I mean, Parkinson's scared me at first and I kind of reacted badly when I was first diagnosed."

In the course of meeting his challenges, Fox learned a larger lesson.

"When you have loss in your life or you have a hole in your life, if you learn not to rush in and try to fill it, but just see what comes in and fills it up, you'll be amazed at what happens," he said.

Finding a cure for Parkinson's has become his mission. But Fox continues to act and, in fact, said fighting this disease has made him a better performer. He says it has stripped him of his vanity, so he no longer cares what he looks like on screen. And that has been very liberating for him.

Please visit Sandy Kenyon's blog for more entertainment news at wabc.typepad.com/whatsandysays