By Kendall McGee | April 20, 2021 at 6:00 PM EDT – Updated April 20 at 9:10 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – A boxing program in Wilmington is leading the fight against Parkinson’s Disease.
“At first I was numb and say ‘No that’s not me, I just have tremors’ or ‘I’m shaking because I didn’t eat enough’ or I’m nervous. You’re kind of in denial,” said Joan Horton.
Those tremors were Parkinson’s Disease for Horton. Now she’s in a fight for her life. It’s a fight made a little easier with Rock Steady Boxing.
”I was hooked the day I came in,” said Horton.
The class is specially designed for people like Horton and helps soften the blows from Parkinson’s Disease.
Each combination they land is intended to keep their muscles strong and improve their balance and coordination, things the disease takes away.
”It’s fantastic. It’s allowed me to keep playing golf, to ride my bicycle, it’s allowed me to do a lot of things I could do before that I thought I wouldn’t be able to do when I was diagnosed. Skateboard! I can skateboard, how about that,” laughed Michael Wilson.
Wilson has shown up to class each week for five years now. He’s living proof the program is making a difference both physically and mentally.
“Just my confidence. I’m not scared of it at all, which I was at first. I was quite scared of it but not anymore,” said Wilson.
Besides results, the research is there too. Instructors have seen their boxers cut back on their medication and even stop relying on a cane to walk.
“You can work as hard or as slow as you want to depending on the day. It gives a boxer some control to take back their fight against Parkinson’s,” said Coach Val Vonrupp.
Before the boxing program, the diagnosis left Horton on the mat, but now she’s chipping away at this disease without a cure and looking to land the knockout punch.
“I have a little sign by my bed that says I can and I will. I can and I will beat Parkinson’s,” said Horton.
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