Parkinson’s doesn’t stop local marathon runner

By Alan Bulluck

May 5, 2014

Jim Snyder is a Vietnam Veteran, a cancer survivor and is living with Parkinson’s disease, but more importantly, he’s a runner.

The 67-year-old Wilkes County native and West Jefferson resident has run 550 marathons in all 50 U.S. states and Canada. He’s also run in the Boston Marathon eight times.

“I’m a member of the 50 States Marathon Club,” Snyder said. “I’ve run in the Boston Marathon eight times.”

Snyder also hasn’t missed a day of running in 2014.

“I’ve run every day this year,” Snyder said.

On those days when the temperatures and wind chills hovered near or in some cases, below zero, and the snow continued to fall, Snyder was running at some point.

Just this past weekend, Snyder ran in the New River Half Marathon in Todd.

Snyder is living with Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement and worsens over time. Medication can control symptoms and slow its progress in most cases, but the disorder has no known cure.

Snyder’s not alone in his fight. Millions the world over have been affected with Parkinson’s including Muhammad Ali, the Rev. Billy Graham and Michael J. Fox. He also has a widespread support network throughout the county, especially in his Ashe Lake community.

Snyder hasn’t allowed Parkinson’s to slow him down and attributes his positive state of health and mind to his daily exercise regimen.

Snyder lives in the Ashe Lake community with his wife, Judy.

On April 12, Snyder’s friends and neighbors gathered along Nettle Knob Road in West Jefferson, at the intersection with N.C. 163, for the official dedication and initial clean-up of Snyder’s Run, which is now part of the N.C. Department of Transportation’s (NCDOT) Adopt-A-Highway Program.

Snyder’s Run is dedicated to Snyder and named in his honor.

“We choose to honor him for his perseverance no matter what…weather or health,” a press release announcing the Adopt-A-Highway project stated. “He is an inspiration to us all.”

Snyder’s Run stretches from Nettle Knob Road to Taylor Ranch Road.

The NCDOT Adopt-A-Highway Program was established in 1988 and is administered by the NCDOT’s Office of Beautification. Adopted roadways must be a minimum of two miles, volunteers are required to perform roadside clean-up tasks at least four times per year and there’s no fee associated with adopting a roadway.

Alan Bulluck can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @albulluck.