PHOENIX — It may look like an ordinary boxing gym with heavy bags hanging from the ceiling and speed bags rattling away. But these fighters, most past their prime, are more driven than ever to battle a foe far more dangerous than the likes of Mike Tyson.
“I was diagnosed when I was 48, and I’m 58 now,” said one member.
“I was diagnosed a good three-four years ago,” said another member Alan Neilson.
Everyone in this gym Wednesday are slugging it out to keep Parkinson’s disease at bay.
“Oh, these people motivate me more than anything,” said Sarah Stockwell.
Sarah and her father, Brad, run Rock Steady Boxing Phoenix. The group workout atmosphere has proved to help people with Parkinson’s regain motor function, slow their disease, and find connections with each other.
“We had two classes a day going before COVID. We had a least 60 people a day in class,” said Sarah.
Like so many other businesses, the pandemic put in-person boxing on pause. Their gym closed. She says the halt of the routine was devastating for members, some passing away.
“It wasn’t from COVID, they just didn’t have anything left, and we lost more in the past year than the four before that, so we need this,” said Sarah through tears.
“The community here are also all people who have Parkinson’s, it makes it much easier to come in here, I’m not self-conscious about shivering or things like that, and just being able to talk to people who are going through the same things as you are, it really means a lot,” said member Brian Goode.
“I love it. When I leave here, I’m hurting all over, so I know I’m doing some good,” said a new member who was recently diagnosed with the disease.
Over a year later, the group just began using a temporary space until a new location in Sun City is completed. But the cost of starting over isn’t cheap. The non-profit hopes the community can help pay for equipment like mats, punching bags, gloves, and more.
“It plays a big part in your life, and physical movement is important if you want to keep going,” said Goode.
And keeping this going may only take a simple donation. The giant impact is on full display in the lives being changed every day at Rock Steady.
If you’d like to donate, click here.
Cameron Polom at KNXV first reported this story.