Dr. Peter Istvan Pedaling for Parkinson’s, cycling for a cure

An interview with Dr. Peter Istvan Pedaling for Parkinson’s, cycling for a cure on March 20, 2024 by George Ackerman, Ph.D, J.D.



My background is in public/private healthcare and entrepreneurial business.


Following the completion of a PhD in Neurophysiology, at Queen’s University, I worked with Eli Lilly, a global pharmaceutical company, in Toronto.


In 2000, I moved to the USA to work with Sentient Medical Systems (SMS), which is the largest entrepreneurial healthcare company that provides intraoperative and diagnostic services. While in the USA, I completed a MBA at the University of North Carolina.


In 2004, we moved back to Canada and landed in Parry Sound, working as the Director of Corporate Services at the West Parry Sound Health Centre, having responsibility for the Ambulance and related services, Nursing Stations (staffed by Nurse Practitioners), Rehabilitation, Strategic Planning, Leadership Development, Accreditation, and a number of other internal programs.


I also worked as the campus Administrator in Parry Sound for Canadore College and am involved with the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and Athabasca University. Currently, I work as the Executive Director, Parry Sound Family Health Team and owner of a professional headshot photography studio, Peter Istvan Photography.


What is your passion and how did you get involved in Parkinson’s awareness and hope for a cure?


In 2011, a good friend of mine Dave Newall and I co-founded Pedaling for Parkinson’s charity ride in Parry Sound, Ontario. Dave’s Dad, had Parkison, and another good friend of mine shared his diagnosis with me. Dave and I looked around for a Parkinson related charity ride to participate in, but there wasn’t one. So, we started one, working close with Parkinson Canada.


In our first year, 2011, over the 3days, we rode 115 km, 170 km, and 125 km, which roughly equated to 100,000 pedal strokes, which was one pedal stroke for every Canadian diagnosed with Parkinson. Day 1 was 3 riders, Day 2 was 5 riders, and Day 3 was about 15 riders, and, we raised $18,000. This was about $17,900 more than we thought we would raise.


Over the next 7 years, in total, we raised $1.7 million dollars, and a critical aspect is, that 100% of those funds raised went into Parkinson’s research. Everything related to logistics of the ride was either donated or sponsored.


What type of goals do individuals with Parkinson’s have when working with you?


Our riders and volunteers had some type of connection. Either they had Parkinson’s, or they had a family member or friend with it. They were all there to help make a difference and raise awareness.


What effect can it have on an individual with Parkinson’s?


Physically, exercise, and especially cycling can have dramatic effects on a person with Parkinson’s.


Mentally, participating in a event like Pedaling for Parkinson’s is about community and well-being. It really is hard to describe the benefit to a person’s soul and happiness, being surrounded by people and an event, lifting them up.


Summary videos:


Pedaling for Parkinson’s – reflections of a 8 year journey –


Pedaling for Parkinson’s, 2018, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada,

What would you like to see as a future goal for your programs?


Eliminate Parkinson’s


What events do you participate in?


Since 2018, Parkinson Canada has taken over Pedaling for Parkinson, and I participate in rides/events, as I can.


Rigid Riders,



Spinning Wheels, Relay to End Parkinson’s,


How does this also assist the caregivers?


Caregiver need a support, resources, and to know they are not alone. Participating in positive Parkinson’s related events can be a tremendous boost to their spirits.


How can someone get in touch?  What is your website?


How can others also become advocates for awareness?


Get involved with local groups and/or events.


What other activities do you undertake to help improve and support your daily living Eg exercise and alternative remedies?


Give yourself a chance, with exercise and nutrition.


Why should people who don’t have Parkinson’s care about this? 


Because if you don’t already know some with Parkinson’s, or don’t have it yet, you will soon. Parkinson’s has one of the highest rates of incidence of the neurological diseases.


If you had one song that would tell us more about you or represent your life, which song would it be?


Haddaway – Life


If you had one final statement or quote you could leave for the Parkinson’s community, what would it be?


Be connected, be engaged, keep moving. You are not alone.