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If I Can Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, Why Can't I Brush My Teeth?


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Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1945, the youngest of four siblings and the only girl, Nan Little learned early on to meet challenges with strength and determination. Nan holds a bachelor's in English and Spanish from Albion College. After teaching middle school for a few years, Nan became a full time mom and volunteer. She returned to work at the YMCA, where she was a founder and first director of the YMCA Earth Service Corps, an environmental leadership program for high school students. After being recruited to the Chemistry department at the University of Washington to administer a program designed to help teachers understand how to teach Native American students, she was dismayed by her own lack of expertise. This lead her to earn a doctorate in Anthropology focused on science and math education for Native students. Nan retired in 2003, intending to fly fish her way into the sunset. Life had other plans. In 2008, at age 62, Nan was diagnosed with Parkinson's. She joined Jay Alberts' Pedaling For Parkinson's (PFP) program and cycled with PFP at RAGBRAI, crossing Iowa four times. She climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2011, certainly one of few women over 65 to do so with Parkinson's. She trekked to the Annapurna base Camp in Nepal in 2012 and hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru in 2014. Exercise and Parkinson's advocacy fills most days. Working closely with YMCAs and other health facilities Nan helps set up Pedaling for Parkinson's programs around the nation. She serves on the Parkinson's Disease Foundation's (PDF) People with Parkinson's Advisory Council (PPAC) and on the board of the Parkinson's Creative Collective (PCC). She is an Ambassador for the Michael J. Fox Foundation's Partners in Parkinson's program, a representative with the Northwest Parkinson's Foundation to the Parkinson's Action Network (PAN) and an advisor for a company that makes an assistive cycling app for people with Parkinson's. Nan and her husband, Doug, live with their two long-haired miniature dachshunds in Seattle, WA. They dote on their four grandchildren. You may contact Nan at

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