Interview Ellen De La Cruz Swimming To Beat Parkinson’s

An interview with Ellen De La Cruz Swimming To Beat Parkinson’s on April 28, 2024

Please tell me a little about your background.

I am a teacher, mother, wife, sister, aunt, and an open water swimmer.

Many people have completed “The Everest” of swimming by traversing the 21 mile channel from England to France through choppy waves, jellyfish, and frigid water. However, my greatest challenge will be overcoming the effects of my Parkinson’s Disease during the 15 -20 hour swim. Please help me raise awareness and funds to find a cure for this progressive, neurological disease.


Can you tell me more about your organization?

I’m an individual person with Parkinson’s that is raising money for Team Fox.


I am a Mom …

For the last 21 years, my son and my little family have been my numero uno. My son’s water polo, school, and piano took all of our resources (if you know me, you already know that). Now that he is independent, the script is flipped and I am no longer the caretaker. In contrast, I will need my friends and family to help me reach my dream. I didn’t make my goal easy, but as Teddy Roosevelt said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.”


I am a Teacher…

For more than three decades, I have been a tutor or teacher of some sort. Currently, I teach reading in the Juvenile Court Schools. I believe in the power of stories. I will have a story to tell my students! Also, I want to model healthy stress reduction and resiliency.


I am a Swimmer…

My parents built a swimming pool at our house in Chula Vista the year I was born. I remember living in the water. My storied (not really) Swim team career started when I was around 7 or 8. I grew up on the beach and participated in the La Jolla Rough Water, Tugs Biathlon, Coronado Rough Water, etc. I swam at CVAA in Chula Vista and briefly at Heartland Aquatics. My best events were the 800 meters and the mile. I made the Jr. Nationals in the 800 and the 800 meter relay. However, I opted out of college aquatics, and I’ve always regretted it. Regret is a funny thing, it might make you try something crazy, like swimming the English Channel after you’ve been diagnosed with an incurable, progressive disease!


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

My passion is because Parkinson’s is devastating, and we need more research to find a cure.


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

Exercise, specifically cold-water swimming, prevents the progression of PD.


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

I’d like to raise $50,000 to help Team Fox find a cure for Parkinson’s.


What events do you participate in?

I’m swimming the English Channel between England and France, by myself, with no wetsuit. It’s a 21 mile test of mental and physical strength. I’ve funded my challenge completely on my own.


How does this also assist the caregivers?

It gives caregivers hope and inspiration.


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


How can others also become advocates for awareness?

Follow my journey and website for my experience with swimming and Parkinson’s.


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

I get monthly acupuncture to help with pain and stiffness.


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

Everyone has their cross to bear, this is mine. If is progressive and different for everyone.


Have you had any family members or relatives affected by Parkinson’s disease?

An in-law had Parkinson’s.


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

Live. Write your own story about Parkinson’s and don’t focus on what it robs from you; focus on the gifts life gives us.