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Fight Back Against Parkinson's

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There are roughly 200 thousand cases of Parkinson’s diagnosed a year. Parkinson's is a disorder of the central nervous system that affects movement, often including tremors and rigidity. Though the disease does not have a cure, there are treatments to improve quality of life. Which is the aim of Rock Steady Boxing at the First Baptist Church in Yoakum they’re fighting back.

Rock Steady Boxing is a world wide program with over 25,000 participants and 511 programs. One of those programs being in the Crossroads.

Crystal Blakeney started the program at the the First Baptist Church in Yoakum after her pastor was diagnosed with the disease. She started working with him one on one and then decided to open up the training to others being affected. Though boxing is considered one of the most difficult sports, the training that goes into it combats the symptoms of Parkinson's

“When a boxer trains they work on agility, balance, speed and a lot of these things Parkinson's need to work on that as well," coach Crystal explained. "So it’s just a really good fit for the disease.”

The class has only been running for a little over a year but in that time frame, it's already improving lives. Just a year ago Andy Hardin could only walk with a walker and had to sit through most of the class. Today, he is referred to by all in the class as their inspiration.

“I was depressed when I was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and this class has really helped me to deal with it," Hardin said.

His emotional health isn't the only improvement he has seen. Andy is now able to drive himself to the class, participate in all of the activities and have more control over his own body.

Within our short conversation, I was also quickly inspired by his tale.

However, Andy isn’t the only one seeing improvements.

Texene Bennetsen also suffers from Parkinson's and has been attending the Rock Steady class for about a year now.

“I’m able to keep going," Bennesten said. "I haven’t really gotten no worse. But I can get around better.”

The churches pastor, Richard Bowden, who suffers from Parkinson’s describes that the dopamine boxing releases in your brain helps with his mobility.

“For me it’s rigidity. My muscles are real stiff, and it’s like having all my muscles are like tension bands, for others it’s tremors," Bowden explained. "The dopamine, the absence of dopamine is what causes that.”

Rock Steady Boxing takes place every weekday at the First Baptist Church of Yoakum, located at 202 Dunn St. starting at noon.

The course is open to anyone who suffers from the disease and coach Crystal says that the quicker you get up and get moving the easier it will be to keep the symptoms at bay.

If you would like to reach out to Crystal for more information on how to get involved in Rock Steady Boxing, you can call her at (361)293-8057.

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