BOSTON (CBS) – Parkinson’s disease jumped into the headlines recently when Robin Williams’ widow revealed he was in the early stages of it when he took his life.
It is a tremendously tough disease to fight. But one local group is fighting back with their fists.
At the “Intenze 978” boxing gym in Lawrence, four men and women lace up their shoes and put on their gloves a couple of times a week to take on one of medicine’s toughest foes: Parkinson’s.
The training program is called “Rock Steady.” It was started by an Indiana based company that has affiliates across the country- including the gym in Lawrence.
“It’s all the exercises a boxer would do to prepare for a fight. And that’s what they’re doing. Preparing for a fight. They’re fighting Parkinson’s” says Al Latulippe, a Rock Steady owner and specially trained coach.
Why boxing? Doctors believe intense exercise can slow the disease. Boxing is intense and fun. So, Greg, Madeline, Joellen and Lisa train hard. They have all struggled with the tremors that come with the disease and swear this helps.
They hit everything but each other. This is no contact.
Greg Gaheb helped bring the program to Massachusetts. He was diagnosed five years ago. “It’s fun to hit the bag and take out the frustration.”
For Gaheb the fight is personal: “I’m fighting back for Colin, Alex, Calen and Quinn… And I’m going to dance at their wedding.” Those are his grandchildren. Four reasons to take a swing at this horrible disease.
Right now, the owner of the Lawrence gym is donating the boxing ring to the group. An incredible gesture. But, the group hopes some sponsors will step forward to help them start a full-time gym that is handicap accessible.
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