Amazing Race winner will offer inspiring words at Healthier You Expo

If there's a mantra that Tim Hague Sr. follows, it's three simple words - live your best.

It's one that evolved from Hague Sr. and his son Tim winning the inaugural edition of The Amazing Race Canada in 2013.

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It's also a mantra that evolved when Hague Sr., a 50-year-old registered nurse, was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson's Disease in February 2011.

"It had only been a couple years since I'd been diagnosed when I went on the race," said Hague Sr. Tuesday from Winnipeg. "I was very hesitant as to how well I'd be able to perform physically on the race.

"The thing I took away from the race was the fact that I could get up every day, determined that I was going to simply do my best, and had the strength to do my best every day and I had the courage to be content. I found out that would take me far further than I could go otherwise. And then just simple perseverance, to get up and do those things. Do your best, be content.

"Amazingly enough, the two guys whose best didn't look that good an awful lot of the time, who struggled more than we ever succeeded, still ended up winning the gosh-darned thing."

Hague Sr. is the keynote speaker at the Prince George Healthier You Expo on Oct. 18 at the Civic Centre.

He's been to Prince George before, having visited several times to see his brother and sister-in-law.

But that was before The Amazing Race came along.

On Oct. 18, he'll share his story of being a contestant on The Amazing Race and bringing some awareness about living with Parkinson's.

If being the underdog on the grueling and challenging race while cris-crossing the country as well as dealing with Parkinson's taught him one thing, is that anything is possible.

"It taught me a powerful personal message that despite having Parkinson's, you can still perform, you can live well and can live to do your best. It's a message that's really resonated with a lot of people."

He's taken that message to elementary and secondary schools and to all sorts of conferences - from those focused on aging to those dealing solely with Parkinson's.

He just returned from a conference in Chicago where he spoke at the American Parkinson's Disease Association. He leaves today for Malaysia for another conference focused on Parkinson's and returns on Oct. 13. Then it's Prince George. Later this month, he'll travel to Seattle to speak at the Parkinson's Foundation.

And in between his speaking engagements, he still finds the time to work as an RN, a job in which he's a manager on a surgical floor at a Winnipeg hospital.

He also balances his family life - he's married to wife Sheryl and they have raised four kids, three of whom are still at home.

He said if his dreams come true, he'll earn a living one day as a full-time speaker.

"My wife and I are taking some serious considerations as to what my future might look like," he said. "I still have Parkinson's. There are things that are difficult to deal with on a day-to-day basis. So we're constantly looking at what's the right thing I should be doing."

He receives a lot of feedback from audience members after one of his speeches.

People are motivated and inspired. There are a lot of tears shed too.

"It's the ability to overcome Parkinson's, to do the race and carry on doing the things I do," he said. "Working. Speaking. (Audience members) feel like there's something there that they're able to take away personally (that they) apply to their life. Whether it's MS. Whether it's the friend who's dealing with something. Family. They can take away some hope - some bit of inspiration to help them with their lives.

"It's a message that transcends age. Everybody relates to it, from the smallest kid to the oldest one. It's just fun."

That feedback in itself is hugely gratifying to Hague Sr., who is half black and half white, was born in Texas and raised by adoptive parents in Kansas.

"I was given great parents, a great family and so well taken care of.

And then there was The Amazing Race on top of that. Ridiculous. In a lot of ways it feels unfair, that I've been blessed with so much when others have so little."

He said the key to managing his Parkinson's symptoms is exercise. He tries to do 45 minutes of yoga four to five mornings a week.

He used to run a lot and used to cycle a lot, but he can't manage that anymore. So he walks now. (During this interview, he was walking two kilometres from the hospital to go get his hair cut.)

He takes the bus to work and walks all the time at the hospital. When he doesn't follow the schedule, he feels the consequences.

Tuesday morning before work, he was tired so he skipped yoga.

"It just hurts," he said. "My back was hurting, my shoulders were hurting because I was stiff. Now I'm huffing and puffing because I took a different route through some rocks and took a shortcut."

He tries to encourage others to have the strength to do their best.

He asks them what they love to do. What is it that they can do? Can they walk? Can they dance? Can they do yoga? Can they swim? What can they do and what do they enjoy doing? Go do that and do it to the best of your abilities.

"Not my (best) because I was diagnosed at 46," he said. "My best is going to look different than your best and Joe's best and Susie's best. Don't compare, just do your best. And then, have the courage to be content. Relax. We all know that at 50 I'm not 25 anymore. But neither am I 70. It's OK to be who and where we are. That is OK. And then every day what do you have to do to get yourself up again."

He encourages people to persevere, to make it happen and ask themselves what it really means to get back up and do it again tomorrow.

"And for me, I generally do as I get those five yoga days in," he said. "I don't walk right without it. I've got three kids still at home, a young wife at 51. I've got lots of things in life I still want to do. I want to be healthy for all the people in my life and the things that I do. So that's my motivation to do the best that I can every day."

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