“Shake It For Parkinson’s” was the first of what they hope to be many events hosted by Rock Steady Boxing, Milligan College and the Lifestyle Center to raise money for Rock Steady Boxing — a boxing club for people with Parkinson’s — and awareness for a disease that can be controlled by maintaining an active lifestyle.
“It’s a great marriage of the three,” said Lisa Whitfield, affiliate coordinator for Rock Steady Boxing. “It not only brings different skill sets, but it brings different age groups and it really involves the community.”
While the Lifestyle Center and Milligan College only recently became involved with Rock Steady Boxing, students and faculty from Milligan’s occupational therapy program hope to make this a regular event.
“(We’re) going to try and incorporate this into next year’s (spring) semester to make it an annual event,” said Anna Jackson, a student in Milligan’s occupational therapy program.
Rock Steady Boxing in Johnson City is the only Rock Steady Boxing affiliate to have at least four certified coaches, a number that will soon grow once several other members complete their training. Cathy Plante, Rock Steady’s coordinator, said she and her husband Mike — who is training to be a coach — got involved with the group by chance, after her nephew, who has Parkinson’s, found it online.
“It’s important to raise awareness and it’s also important to let people with Parkinson’s know that there’s things that can help them,” she said.
For nearly two hours, people from all age groups — both with and without Parkinson’s — danced with high energy and enthusiasm as one of the Lifestyle Center’s dance instructors, Sandra Talford, led them through several different routines meant to keep them more active than they’re used to.
“This is my passion,” Talford said. “The support from (everyone) is great and I’m loving to see that it’s such a big experience for everybody.”
While the fundraiser was held to help bring awareness to Parkinson’s and the people who live with the disease every day, it also provided inspiration and motivation to others in attendance.
“It’s just inspirational, they get up and fight their fight every day and knowing that they can come here with a smile and be engaged gives me all the more energy to be the same way for them,” Jackson said. “If they can do what they do then I can do what I do.”