"It changes you, this disease," Fox says. "And I've discovered a certain level of surrender to it, which isn't to say capitulation or allowing it to overwhelm me. But my accepting it, it saves me a whole lot of mental work. It is what it is what it is."
What it is these days is not so much a limitation as an integral part of his life. Fox's kids don't really think of him as an actor. Instead, they think of him as running a Parkinson's organization. Sam even helps out at the foundation sometimes, doing computer work.
The trick, Fox says, is not to let yourself be defined by the disease. "I was playing hockey a few years ago, and afterwards I was talking to Tracy and I said, 'It's this f---ing PD. I can't get in the corners and dig out the puck the way I used to. My legs start failing, and I start to fall down.' And she said, 'Mike, you're 42 years old. If you can't play hockey like you did when you were 16, that's why. It's not the Parkinson's.' It's like that in everything. You take it apart and say, 'What's PD? What's age? What's maturity?' "
It is Fox's unwillingness to let Parkinson's get him down that has made him such an effective fighter for his cause. He comes from a family of soldiers: his father, Bill, was a career officer in the Canadian army, and he recalls talking to his uncles about their exploits during World War II. "I'd say, 'I don't know how you could fight in a war—the minute someone fired a shot I'd throw down my gun and be gone. How do you not do that?' And they said, 'You just don't. You show up and do what you need to do.' To a much less dramatic degree, that's what I do. I don't have the luxury of saying this isn't something I'm going to participate in."
It's a duty, he says, that his father would have approved of. "I can rationalize that and say I didn't have the choice. But still, there's always a moment of surprise that I didn't throw down my gun and run away."
*The name of this award was originally the Impact Award. In 2008, the awards were renamed as the Inspire Awards.