HONESDALE, PA —For people who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, recreational boxing is one of the best ways out there to stay active, Rolland Grote said.
HONESDALE, PA — For people who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, recreational boxing is one of the best ways out there to stay active, Rolland Grote said.
Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease that causes the deterioration of motor skills, balance, speech, memory and sensory function. It’s the second leading neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s.
“We start out with stretching, moving all the parts of our body, we box for a half hour and, then, we have core workouts for strengthening our arms and joints,” Grote said, telling the Wayne County Commissioners about the Rock Steady Boxing program that is specifically geared toward people with Parkinson’s. “We all start out the program saying, ‘I’m a fighter! You’re a fighter! We’re all fighters! Rock Steady!’”
Grote was attending the commissioner’s meeting to raise awareness for the upcoming Pocono 5K Foxtrot on Saturday, June 19; this year, the event’s proceeds go toward the Michael J. Fox Foundation and a local Parkinson’s nonprofit. This year’s theme is based on the 1985 film “Back to the Future,” and one of the songs from its soundtrack, “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News. Grote got the inspiration when the tune came on during one of their Rock Steady workout sessions.
“Back to the future where Parkinson’s doesn’t exist anymore,” as Grote put it. “Before, we had to donate all of our money to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, so we formed a 501(c)3 called the Tri-State Parkinson’s Project... we can retain some of [the proceeds], so we can help exercise and education programs in Wayne County.”
Suzanne Atcavage, director of the 5K event, said that Parkinson’s is widespread throughout the country and the region, highlighting the need to raise money to fund local programs.
For folks with Parkinson’s, “movement is medicine,” Atcavage said. But for Grote, who received his Parkinson’s diagnosis 10 years ago, movement becomes more challenging with every year.
“It’s progressing much faster than I had hoped. This may be the last year I get to play golf [and drive my car], I don’t know,” he said, though soon adding. “I’m a fighter.”
Atcavage, whose father was diagnosed with the disease several years ago, talked about some of the changes that take place in those it affects. But she made clear, “it’s not a death sentence.”
“Being passive is not an option for this population,” Atcavage said.
The commissioners thanked both for the effort they put into helping the population fighting this disease. “It takes a special person to be on the forefront, trying to help others, and I know that’s what you’re doing,” commissioner Brian Smith said. “You haven’t lost any of your enthusiasm from the first time I met you until now.”
The commissioners signed a proclamation declaring May Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month in Wayne County. Grote said that anybody in the area who thinks they or somebody they know might be developing Parkinson’s can call him personally at 973/476-4345 for help. Folks can sign up for the race by visiting www.poconofoxtrot5k.com.