BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) — Rock Steady Boxing is a national nonprofit organization meant to help improve the quality of life for those dealing with Parkinson’s Disease.
The program works to improve the symptoms of Parkinson’s patients through non-contact boxing curriculum.
Rock Steady Boxing has been at the VSN Athletic Performance Fitness Center in Boardman for four years. For three days a week, 18 people with Parkinson’s disease meet to “box away Parkinson’s.”
“You have to move your body, you have to exercise, you have to be mentally and physically active,” said Jeff Henry, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease four years ago.
Parkinson’s disease can cause challenges with motor skills, balance, speech and sensory function.
“It’s a movement disorder. Our brain is not producing the right amount of dopamine. When we exercise and do the intense training, it stimulates the brain,” says Paula Caldwel, a boxer who has had the disease for 18 years.
Rock Steady Boxing is a challenging program aimed at improving the balance and strength of those with the disease.
Symptoms may be different for each person.
“Each of us get our own version of the disease, there’s not any two of us that have the exact same thing,” says Bill Mentzer, who was diagnosed six years ago.
For those with Parkinson’s disease, having a community that supports and motivates means everything.
“We’ve become a family, our families are very supportive — but they don’t know what it’s like to have Parkinson’s,” Caldwel said.
“Part of the disease comes with a lack of dopamine, depression and anxiety, so having people around you really helps alleviate the symptoms,” Mentzer said.
Once a month, the group meets together to share how they are feeling, discuss medications and give advice.
“It helps you out mentally the most. You can find somebody just like you, and you can help each other,” Henry said.
Later this month, Mill Creek MetroParks will hold a walk to show support and raise awareness for Parkinson’s disease