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Rock Steady Boxing – One Walker’s Experience

March 7th, 2016 by Guest Blogger

Double photo #1 Mike Achin RSB copy

I was excited to hear that Rock Steady Boxing (RSB) will receive the Bonander Award at the Unity Walk this year. Over the last two years, RSB has become a very important part of my life. It has taught me a lot about fighting Parkinson’s disease (pd) and not giving up. The more we learn about pd, the more we learn that staying active through exercise is important. A body in motion stays in motion! There are many ways to stay active such as running, swimming, walking, yoga, etc. Just pick what you like to do and start doing it!

Two years ago at the World Parkinson’s Congress in Montreal, my wife, daughter and I attended a working seminar called Rock Steady Boxing. I immediately fell in love with it. It’s everything I had been searching for. I was so excited about this program! That same year at the Unity Walk, more information was available about RSB. The problem was they were in Indiana and I live in Massachusetts. I was searching for answers and trying to figure out how I could bring RSB to my area. I was getting frustrated but then I heard some good news. There was a boxer in Rhode Island who was going to open up his gym to Rock Steady Boxing. My prayers had been answered!!! Rich Gingras, along with my fellow pd warrior Mike Quaglia, had gone to Indy to get trained and BINGO, RSB had a home in Pawtucket, RI. That’s how I got involved. Now let me explain why I love RSB.

The word “boxing” scares some people off. They think we get in the ring and pound each other. Even though that might be fun it’s not what happens. We do everything else a boxer would do such as, footwork (don’t shuffle!!), stretch those muscles (so we don’t become rigid and hunched forward), and yes, putting on the gloves and hitting the heavy bag, hand pads and our new toy, the dummy. Our classes include people living with pd at every range along the continuum of this disease, from those confined to wheelchairs to those just diagnosed, and everything in between. Men and women, ages 30 to 80, all come to battle pd and take charge of our lives.

Everyone who enters our gym immediately becomes part of our band of brothers and sisters. We laugh, cry, enjoy the good days and help each other through the hard days. We are ONE, fighting back at pd!! When you enter our gym it is time to get to work. Get your hands taped up and start walking or jogging. We need to get our hearts pumping. It is now proven that a strenuous exercise program can slow the progression of pd. I have seen it over and over again at RSB. After we warm up, we do a good 15 to 20 minutes of stretching. This is so important in fighting the stiffness that pd tries to give our body. We learn new ways to stretch. We can do these on our own at home too. Last but not least, get the gloves on!! “It’s just you and me now pd … and I feel good. I am going to knock you silly!!” Every participant in the class works with a partner and we encourage one another to work to the best of our ability. We are all learning to take control of our lives and knock the crap out of pd. It feels good to let loose and pound that bag. You are swinging with your left and right hand, your good side and your bad side. You are stretching to hit the bag. You are using footwork. All things that we pd fighters have trouble with from time to time. Magically, you are swinging, jabbing, punching, and moving those feet – not every time, some days are a struggle. You actually feel good and you forget you have pd!!!! It’s a strenuous workout and if you do it right, you feel great and you’re exhausted.

Mike #4
There is also a bonus I did not expect from RSB. You become close to your fellow boxers; they become like family. We all know how much pd has tried to take away from us. But now we fight back – we sweat, fall, work through the times the meds are not kicking in, laugh, and cry … don’t mess around with my new family!! I love them all. At the end of every class we gather with a chant – one, two, three … FAMILY!! Outside of the gym we do the best we can. This is my life. This is how I take charge. These are my people!! What are you waiting for? Find a RSB near you and change your life forever!!

Note: pd is purposely not capitalized. I refuse to give it any respect.

Mike Achin
Team Member, Team DominACHIN over PD

Rock Steady Boxing is Punching Out Parkinson’s

February 15th, 2016 by Helaine Isaacs, Event Director

RSB Channel 12 video

Research has shown that exercise is beneficial to those living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and we hear regularly from our walkers about the wide range of exercise that they are participating in. One program that is sweeping the country, having grown to 93 affiliate locations in 28 states in the US, is Rock Steady Boxing (RSB).

The RSB organization will receive the Alan Bonander Humanitarian Award at this year’s Unity Walk. The RSB – New England affiliate in Pawtucket, Rhode Island will perform a demonstration at the Walk in April and was recently featured on Channel 12 Eyewitness News, the local WCBS and Fox News affiliate in RI. Check out the news feature about RSB in their community, featuring Rich Gingras, the owner of Fight2Fitness and RSB trainer.

We look forward to your joining us at the 72nd Street Bandshell stage in Central Park on April 23rd when we get to observe first hand how these folks are fighting back at PD!

Happy holidays!

December 23rd, 2015 by Parkinson's Unity Walk Team

Wishing you and yours a happy holiday season filled with good times shared with family and friends.

Warm regards,
The Parkinson’s Unity Walk Staff

PUW-2016-HappyHolidays-plain

Happy Thanksgiving From Our Family to Yours!

November 19th, 2015 by Helaine Isaacs, Event Director

PUW-Thanksgiving-2016
We here at the Parkinson’s Unity Walk are grateful to YOU for your commitment, and generous support of research that will take us closer to finding the cause and cure for Parkinson’s disease. Whether you walk in Central Park, support the Walk with your donation, and/or fundraise on behalf of this event, we thank you for being part of the Parkinson’s Unity Walk “family.”

Wishing you and yours a satisfying and wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Resilience Against All Odds!

July 29th, 2015 by Guest Blogger

Doug Nemeth was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease ten years ago and has participated in the Parkinson’s Unity Walk since 2009 as a member of “Livin’ La Levodopa.” Doug believes resilience is one of the factors that contribute to his living well with Parkinson’s disease and recently shared this story.

Helaine Isaacs
Event Director

Lemon tree
Nearly 45 years ago, my parents gave me a small stick of a lemon tree as a gift. It survived high school, went with me to college and survived the move from Florida to Florence, NJ. It survived six moves in the Reading area of Pennsylvania, one during a Halloween snowstorm. It survived severe drought outside in the summer especially when we went on vacation. I always hired a local teenager to water the tree in my absence but inevitably the youth hired to do the job felt that a one minute rain shower was adequate for the 3’ tree until we returned home a week later, in spite of daily temperatures of 95 degrees. The tree always rebounded when it saw me and the hose. It survived me waiting until Thanksgiving to bring it inside after barely enduring freezing temperatures. Everyone who knows me well knows I have this lemon tree a very long time! They also probably have enjoyed lemonade from my lemon tree or at least a squeeze of lemon in their water or tea. The tree has yielded countless bushels of lemons over the years and has had over 25 full size lemons on it at any one time.

By this past winter, it was obvious that time had taken its toll. The lemon tree lost all of its leaves during an early frost. I forgot I put it in the guest bedroom – my cognitive functioning is fading due to my living with Parkinson’s disease – and the tree was apparently dead after six weeks of “drought” at my own hand. In late April, with no one wanting to even mention the lemon tree, I put it out to its final resting place. At the last minute, I decided to repot it. It was lifeless…rotted roots and no green anywhere but I decided to do it anyway. Everyone chuckled about the dead tree in my garden. Two months later, after having been without leaves for eight months, the tree is starting to push out growth everywhere. It is nothing short of a miracle. If that tree can live through that, I can certainly live with Parkinson’s disease. That lemon tree has taught me about resilience. It is a family heirloom. My son, Zach says the only thing he wants of mine after I’m gone is the lemon tree. Take good care of it Zach and continue to learn from it.

Doug Nemeth
“Livin’ La Levodopa”