By Davd King
“Relax, It’s Just F—n’ Parkinson’s is printed on his t-shirt. That’s the saying you will hear from Dan Cochrane, 78, if he catches you feeling sorry for him.
In Concord, now an Oakmont of Montecito resident, Cochrane used to run in the annual Bay to Breakers race in San Francisco, until a Parkinson’s diagnosis made him hang up his running shoes 21 years ago.
But with the help of his son, Robert Cochrane, Dan has found a way to return to big race events. He just completed a 26.2 mile marathon at Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, a fundraiser for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research on January 7 and 8 with full spirited support from his tenant neighbors and Montecito staff.
“I was a distance runner,” says Cochrane. “It was good to get out and clear out the mind and just let go,” Cochrane stated in a KPIX News 5 interview after completing the Bay to Breakers event.
Cochrane’s running in the Bay to Breakers was a yearly tradition for him until his Parkinson’s diagnosis. In May 2022, he returned to cross the finish line again.
“The doctor told me… that I would be in a wheelchair eventually,” he said. “I decided that I didn’t want to take that laying down.”
Still young at heart, Cochrane has a strict diet and sticks to routine exercise. He says this has helped him stay out of a wheelchair.
“You begin to realize that you don’t have the control that you used to have of your movements,” said Cochrane. “I think I am ahead of the game. We are 20 years into it and I’m still doing okay.”
“It’s just f—-n Parkinson’s,” said Cochrane about the quote he wears proudly on his shirt that he wears on race day. “It is a reaction to people’s reaction to me. They look at me like I’m dying or something. They see the wheelchair or pushcart and they have a terrible look on their face and so I say, ‘Don’t worry, it’s just f—-n Parkinson’s.’”
However, for Cochrane, hitting the pavement for a distance run is no longer an option. “It’s just too hard on my back,” states Cochrane.
Cochrane’s son, Robert, figured out a way to get his dad to cross the Bay to Breakers finish line one more time.
“He wants to be just regular Dan,” explained Robert Cochrane. “I want dad to know there is still hope.”
The father-son duo successfully completed the Bay to Breakers 7-mile run with the help of a running chair. That feat was not unnoticed. In addition to a news segments, Dan was invited to join Team Fox to participate in the 2023 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.
Meanwhile, back home, the staff and tenants of Oakmont Montecito offered their support by hosting their own internal 5K event, running through the halls of the senior community while others ran outdoors.
The Cochranes trained for a month in his running chair, practicing from Newhall Park to Montecito, to prepare for the marathon.
The marathon was conquered. Cochrane is back on the road again and Team Fox has raised over $115K for the Parkinson’s research.
As Cochrane says, “It’s just f—n’ Parkinson’s.
Portions of this article are edited from KPIX News 5 May 2022 interview.