Fighting back against Parkinson’s: Rock Steady Boxing

Published: Jul. 28, 2022 at 11:14 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Fighting back against Parkinson’s Disease-- that’s the goal of a boxing club now offering classes in the Chippewa Valley.

One class in Eau Claire looks to prove that those with the movement disorder are some of the toughest people you’ll find.

“You can live with Parkinson’s. It’s not a death sentence,” said Karyl Sorge, a Parkinson’s fighter from Menomonie.

Medical experts estimate 60,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease each year. Eight years ago Karyl Sorge was one of those people.

“I was diagnosed in 2014. My fingers started tremoring together and my hand just started tremoring more and more,” Sorge reflected.

In 2017, Rick Casper of Chippewa Falls was also diagnosed.

“Parkinson’s is a whole range of things. It hits everybody different,” Casper added. “Everybody has different symptoms. My biggest symptom is tremors.”

Every Monday and Wednesday, the two roll with the punches along with dozens of others at Rock Steady Boxing in Eau Claire.

“We’re in a senior center but these are not old people. These are athletes,” said Coach Allison Triebold. “You know, they’re in here and they are busting it and they’re laughing and singing and having fun and leaving here with the sense of renewed purpose.”

Fighting back against the diagnosis.

“The number one most effective way to fight this disease is with exercise, to make them do things that their body doesn’t want to necessarily do anymore or to keep them doing things that they don’t want to lose,” Triebold explained.

“Every time you hit the bag, you’re firing neurons that help diminish the progression of Parkinson’s,” added Sorge. “You feel power and that’s something you feel like you’re losing with Parkinson’s, so you’re gaining power.”

“It’s an exercise class where everybody has fun,” Kasper said. “The coach is great. She’s here to help everybody do the best that they can and be the best that they can be.”

Triebold has been teaching the class for four years now.

“This is what I can bring,” the coach said. “This is how I can help.”

She says the class has two requirements: 1. Have Parkinson’s 2. Want to fight. Age--that doesn’t matter.

“Parkinson’s does not care how old you are. It does not care,” Triebold said. “You can be twenties. You can be in your thirties, forties, fifties, and there is a community here of young onset diagnosed people. Your people are here and you have to find each other and you have to fight like your life depends on it because it does.”

The class not only strengthening participant’s muscles, but also their morale.

“It’s just great to be able to talk to people that know what I’m about and what’s happening to me because they’re going through the same thing,” Kasper explained.

Tenacity can be found in every corner of the class. Parkinson’s symptoms, however, those take a back seat.

Increasing their strength, increasing their numbers, and increasing their possibilities.

“Life is not over. Parkinson’s doesn’t define you,” Triebold mentioned.

“This is just a roadblock in your way of life and you can keep keep fighting,” Sorge added.

Classes are currently held at the L.E. Phillips Senior Center in Eau Claire on Monday and Wednesday.

Organizers hope to add a Friday class as soon as possible. You do not have to be a member of the senior center to attend.

If you would like to volunteer or learn more about the class, click here.

To learn about classes in Cameron, click here.

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