Last year I lost my best friend in the whole wide universe, William Groth—Wild Bill, who received a diagnosis of early onset Parkinson’s Disease before he was in his 40s. After his diagnosis, Bill was only able to work for a few more years.
Wild Bill and I became lifelong buddies in the early 1970s. I arrived in Logan, Utah a few days before Bill. I was starting graduate school at Utah State University and Bill, an undergraduate, became my roommate at a rental home filled with college kids.
Bill had driven from New Jersey to Utah on his trusty BMW R60 motorcycle. I told him that motorcycles weren’t for me but he insisted that I hop on the back. I was quickly hooked. Part of my college loan money went to the purchase of a little Honda bike. A few years later I purchased my own BMW R60, which still sits in my garage.
I had many great adventures with Bill: motorcycling, hiking, camping, canoeing, tubing, fixing cars and motorcyles, hanging out with our dogs and getting seriously drunk. Bill was a Boy Scout and Eagle Scout —a truly good, honest guy, and a genuine outdoorsman. I was just the dumb kid from Long Island, who followed in Bill’s shadow.
Throughout his long illness Bill never lost his optimism. He always thought that some new combination of drugs or vitamins or a new doctor was improving the quality of his life. On one of Bill's visits to NJ, he insisted on taking my motorcycle for a spin. His gait and balance were already quite compromised by his disease but he wanted to ride around the neighborhood. Who was I to stop him? Or to object when my wife Ina hopped on to ride with him?
In honor and memory of Bill, my wife and I have started Team Wild Bill Rides as a fundraiser for the Michael J. Fox Foundation. We’d love to have you join Bill’s team as a race participant or just contribute to one of the other team members. And please spread the word on social media.