Horton lecture brings Michael J. Fox to R.I.T.

On Oct. 15, the Rochester Institute of Technology's Gordon Field House sold out its seats to 5,100 eager audience members all waiting to see the Horton Distinguished Speaker, actor and Parkinson's spokesperson Michael J. Fox.

Tickets sold out shortly after they went on sale, and the speech was greatly anticipated by all that were fortunate enough to get in.

The Horton lecture started with a standing ovation and a facetious warning from Fox that his talk would not "rise to the level of a lecture," but resemble something more like Charlie Sheen's speaking tour.  

The actor continued with a light-hearted recap of his career, spanning from his days as Alex Keaton on "Family Ties" to his role as the time-traveling Marty McFly in the Back to the Future movies. He joked that he regretted not keeping any memorabilia from the films.

"I was a fool," he said. "I thought the movie would be terrible, would suck, so I didn't save anything," he said. "But I think I have some stuff from Teen Wolf."

He claimed that acting is all about reacting, and this extended to the way that in life, you have to take the things that happen to you and keep living. This held especially true for his diagnosis with Parkinson's disease. He said that he woke up from a long night of drinking with a trembling pinky, which he attributed to his hangover. As the trembling continued, however, he was tested and at age 29 discovered that he had early-onset Parkinson's.

Fox recounted how he hid his condition for seven years until 1998, when he came forward with his disease and became a "reluctant poster boy." He explained that he made it his responsibility to make a difference.

He went on to create The Michael J. Fox Foundation, which has donated 150 million dollars to Parkinson's research. Fox explained that most foundations are built for self-sustainability, but that his project was "made to go out of business" in a forceful fight for a cure, and he says he's "looking forward to being out of a job."

The lecture ended with a Q-and-A, which was filled with audience members applauding him on his work and enquiring after the Delorean. Lastly, a student thanked him for the research his foundation supported, which had helped her grandfather. The lecture ended as it began: with a standing ovation and a humble "thank you" from the guest of honor.