LARGO, FL — Meet the boxers who are fighting back against Parkinson’s. As they train at Rock Steady Boxing, they’re making life changing gains. More than a million Americans suffer from Parkinson’s, with as many as 60,000 new cases each year. Symptoms include tremors, stiffness, and loss of balance.
Francis O’Sullivan, who has Parkinson’s, explains, “Everyone who has Parkinson’s has the same disease differently. Not only that, it’s different every day.”
So they’re battling it in a very different, very literal way as they punch, elbow and kick at the gym. Recent studies show that exercise helps alleviate Parkinson’s symptoms – and in some cases, even reverses them.
These boxers have more strength and better balance – but the benefits are more than physical. They’re loving the hard work – and they’re part of a team, with real camaraderie.
“We look forward to seeing each other. We encourage each other as we’re boxing,” says Cheri Grey, who also boxes. “We have a huge connection.”
O’Sullivan is proud of his progress, saying, “Before I started the boxing, I needed help getting dressed. I don’t need that help anymore.”
It’s something we take for granted, but an achievement like that is a knockout. Rock Steady Boxing started in Indianapolis, but their mission to empower people with Parkinson’s and their classes are spreading across the country. You can visit rocksteadboxing.org to find a class near you!